A response to Seniors care homes should remain private

We seem to believe that if you are poor as a person in care, you are to blame and must be punished.

A response to Seniors care homes should remain private

Dear Joe,

We, the people, the government, already pay all of the costs you mentioned for private care facilities including the corporate skim on top.

Many of the private care home employees are already employees on the BC health care payroll list. The biggest difference between government care homes and private care homes is wage, benefits and hours for employees. Part of the corporate skim we pay for. It also means more poverty, insecurity, mental health problems and let’s not forget security benefits and tax rebates paid for by us.

I would hazard there’s a different reason the government doesn’t want to give up their private care home operators yet. It would mean internalizing all of the employees who currently work 15 hours a day at government funded facilities for different employers to a single employer under government. Without a clear transition and capacity plan there would be large and immediate overtime costs.

Seniors pay 70 per cent to 80 per cent of their income for care housing. At a minimum, for people on low income security benefits (OAS and GIS) they are allowed to keep about $325 per month. Roughly $10.50 per day in disposable income for things including cell phone, bus pass, haircuts, clothing and so on. Even the most generous math leaves this inadequate.

Clearly, we seem to believe that if you are poor as a person in care, you are to blame and must be punished. Their very few dollars are likely to go back into the local economy.

At a maximum people spend around $3,200 per month in residential care. Simplified, this means that for people making more than $4,000-$4,500 per month in retirement revenue, their cost is capped. The true cost of residential care to the B.C. taxpayer, that’s us as you mentioned, can be upwards of $6,000 per month.

Clearly, we seem to believe that if you are wealthy as a senior we must shelter you from paying the true cost of care. These subsidies for the wealthy are less likely to go back into the local economy.

Unbelievable, truly, that a basic standard of decency and security for people receiving care is unattainable while wealth subsidies are a given. Both are legislated.

If you want better standards of care and employment then a government takeover is inevitable. That said, our health authority seems incapable of understanding that employees come first if they want to achieve person centered care. Care must be properly funded and humanely staffed. Disconnected rotations and staffing inconsistency creates disconnected care.

All the safety, propriety and politeness in the world doesn’t replace our need for continuity in relationships with the people supporting us and working with us. Treating employees like cogs rather than clients with their own relationships, mental health and wellness considerations has high future costs. The perspective seems to be saving their pennies now even if we all pay dollars later.

Matthew Lowe, director

Community Plus Care



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