Seniors use gymnastics equipment for routines to improve their balance and flexibility, one of the programs developed to keep B.C.’s growing number of seniors active and independent. These programs have been suspended, seniors’ activity centres closed due to COVID-19. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

Seniors use gymnastics equipment for routines to improve their balance and flexibility, one of the programs developed to keep B.C.’s growing number of seniors active and independent. These programs have been suspended, seniors’ activity centres closed due to COVID-19. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

B.C. senior health indicators show strain as numbers grow

Wait times for long-term care continue to grow

Beyond the immediate threat of COVID-19 to B.C. seniors, some indicators of their overall health are improving as the number of baby boomers entering their retirement years continues to grow.

As demand for care continues to rise and the options for seniors to socialize and exercise have been reduced or eliminated, what remains to be seen is how severe the long-term impacts of the pandemic will be.

The survey shows there was a four per cent increase in the number of B.C. residents aged 65 and older, continuing a trend that has seen a 27 per cent increase in the past 10 years. The vast majority, 94 per cent, continue to live independently in their own homes, with three per cent in long-term care and three per cent in assisted living, a rate that has remained stable for the past five years.

The latest survey data are for the 2019-20 year ended in March, contained in the latest Monitoring Senior Services report produced annually by the office of B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie. Before the pandemic disrupted senior care operations and the rest of the world economy, the rising number of seniors needing care was already stretching resources and wait times.

RELATED: Increase in senior care home visits promised

RELATED: Still too many seniors in care homes, on drugs

The number of long-term care beds per thousand population aged 85 and up has decreased nine per cent in the past five years, with a 27 per cent increase in seniors on the wait list. The average wait time for admission to a facility was 52 days, and the number admitted within 30 days dropped by 11 per cent.

Health Minister Adrian Dix’s emphasis on reaching the provincial target of 3.36 hours a day of care has shown significant results, with the number of long-term care facilities funded to meet the target rising from 30 to 50 per cent compared to the previous year. All facilities owned by regional health authorities met the target, but only 22 per cent of contract facilities had met the goal in 2019-20.

The survey is released annually along with the Long-term Care Quick Facts Directory, used by families looking for senior care and evaluating each provincial facility. The latest survey shows progress made in reducing falls with injury in publicly funded facilities, but little progress made in reducing the use of anti-psychotic drugs, which Mackenzie has identified as too high.

There was also a 17 per cent increase in substantiated complaints related to the province’s licensing regulations for senior facilities, which are reported in the directory in greater detail this year.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Langley and other communities should be concerned about credit union’s direction

Member read the fine print and does not like the proposed changes

Langley MLAs Andrew Mercier and Megan Dykeman. (Black Press Media files)
Langley MLAs announce multiculturalism grants intended to help fight racism

Priority was given to projects addressing anti-Indigenous, anti-Asian and anti-Black racism

Jaden Lipinski has signed to the Langley-based Vancouver Giants, and is expected to start next season. (Lipinski Family/Special to Black Press Media)
Arizona forward joins Vancouver Giants ranks

A young scorer out of Scottsdale was signed to start playing in the 2021-22 season

Langley Township is planning to construct a multi-use arts and cultural centre in Fort Langley. (Langley Township graphic)
Wanna buy a piece of Langley history? Museum naming rights up for grabs

Township opens up sponsorship for new Salishan Place by the River history, arts and culture centre

Vancouver Giants goalie Trent Miner saw his lengthy shutout streak in the net come to an end in a 6-3 loss against Prince George on Saturday, April 10. (Allen Douglas/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Giants winning streak snapped by Prince George Cougars in 6-3 loss

The game also marked the end of a franchise-record shutout streak by goalie Trent Miner

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read