B.C. government must protect seniors

For profit seniors' facilities have low staffing levels

To the editor:

It has been confirmed by the Senior Advocates Report that most seniors’ facilities in British Columbia do not meet government guidelines for staffing levels.

There are two reasons why for profit facilities are neglecting our seniors. Greed, and a lack of enforcement by our government.

PLOS Medicine has stated that: “For-profit organizations direct revenue in excess of expenses to the owners and the stock holders, whereas non-profit and publicly owned net income is used to benefit clients.

“In order to generate profits, they tend to have lower costs and lower client to staff ratios. Money is diverted to investors which leaves less money to pay for staff.”

PLOS Medicine investigated 952 for-profit senior facilities. They were put into four categories depending on degree of profit. Serious deficiencies reported by inspectors were much higher in the facilities in the highest profit category. Their conclusion was: “This suggests an inverse effect of profit on quality.”

Second reason: the government continues to refuse to fine or penalize facilities for non-compliance although the Ombudsman has recommended it does so to ensure the health and safety of our seniors.

Health ministry continues to approve of the Health Authorities system of monitoring referred to as “progressive compliance.” This system allows facilities to commit multiple infractions over the course of years with no more consequence than verbal and written warnings. Restrictions on their licence can be applied and an administrator can be appointed to try to bring them into compliance, but those consequences are used very rarely.

There has always been a concern that caring for seniors for profit could result in neglect. Therefore, it has been suggested that a safeguard would be a requirement that public funding be earmarked and spent on mandated minimum direct care staffing levels with no discretion for facilities to redirect this money to other budgetary items including profit generations.

Has the British Columbia government taken this step to protect our seniors?


Judy Galley