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Care providers seek additional guidelines for seniors' advocate

Jul 25 2012

The B.C. Care Providers Association wants to add transparency and a zero-tolerance policy for elder abuse to the proposed guiding principles for the creation of an Office of the Seniors' Advocate in B.C.

The association is submitting its recommendations to B.C.'s health minister today as part of a consultation process on the creation of the office.

In its letter, the B.C. Care Providers Association says it hopes the office of the seniors' advocate could become a vehicle for efficient use of resources, streamlining bureaucracy and allowing for more resources for staffing and front-line care.

The association suggests the office should focus on supporting seniors and others "raising concerns about suspected elder abuse by adopting a principle of zero-tolerance and ensuring safety gaps in the B.C. Care Aide Registry are addressed - as proposed by BCCPA and [B.C.'s] Ombudsperson."

"This should include making investigators' reports available to family members," the submission says.

The care providers association also points out that health-care services are only one of the issues that seniors face and that the advocate could also address issues of housing, transportation, income support and isolation.

The Office of the Seniors' Advocate was one of more than a dozen commitments announced by the health minister in February, just hours before B.C.

Ombudsperson Kim Carter released a scathing report on seniors care in B.C.

The report, the result of a three-year investigation, made 176 recommendations for improvements to home and community care, home support, assisted living and residential care.

The government's subsequent action plan included a "one-stop" toll-free phone number for seniors to file complaints about any type of care; standardized provincewide regulations for public and private care homes; and expanded community services to keep seniors in their homes.

The Seniors Health Care Support Line - which can be accessed at 1-877-952-3181 - was implemented last month for seniors and families who have experienced problems accessing health-care services, the Health Ministry said Tuesday.

The seniors' advocate office will take longer to establish, however, and is not expected to be in place until next year, the ministry said.

There have been 22 public consultations held in nine communities - including in two in seniors' care facilities - with more than 500 participants, according to the Health Ministry. Recommendations will go to the government in the fall.

"It is important that the role of the seniors' advocate be determined not just by government, but by seniors, caregivers, service providers and other stakeholders," Health Ministry spokesman Stephen May said in an email.

"There are many different, and sometimes competing, roles that a seniors' advocate could take on. That is why a consultation process is vital."


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