The B.C. government is opening 100 spaces of free training for home and independent living support workers, to help deal with a chronic shortage of home support that has some independent seniors moving into facilities before they need to.
The program is set to begin with 25 spaces in the Central Okanagan region in late July, with intakes in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to follow, Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang said Wednesday. Students receive first aid and CPR training to qualify for entry-level non-medical positions in home care and independent living facilities, where they provide light housekeeping, support with meals and other day-to-day tasks.
The B.C. Care Providers Association, representing private senior care operators, is co-sponsoring the program. “The strong focus on allowing seniors to age in place and live in their homes as long as possible will require the necessary human resources to achieve this,” said Terry Lake, CEO of the association and a former B.C. health minister.
B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie tracks the shortage of home-based care. Her latest report found that the number of home support clients increased by 1.7 per cent, but that was entirely due to short-term home care, with long-term home support declining by one per cent.
Earlier surveys found that the rate of anti-psychotic medication for home-base patients was higher than the national average in B.C., which has proportionally the largest and oldest senior population of any province.
Mackenzie says people with the cognitive and physical ability to be on their own or in assisted living residences are in care facilities because they can’t get the medical support they need at home.