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A Vigil for 'Services Lost'

stock photo: Hospital scene

Visitors to the hospital or J.L. Crowe school on Tuesday, February 19, between the hours of 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm, will see a group of people holding vigil at the intersection of the hospital and school access roads.

The Society for the Protection and Care of Seniors (SPCS) will be hosting their annual Lost Services Vigil at that time.  The purpose of this vigil is to draw public attention to policies and gaps in service such as those that resulted in the sad events in 2006, when the Albo family found no care bed available locally, and Frances Albo was transferred to Grand Forks, only to die, alone, two days later.

Health care services continue to diminish, say the members of SPCS.  

Locally, in 2002 there was a dramatic loss of residential care beds with the closure of KIRO manor and Mater Misericordiae. The stated intent of these closures was to introduce enhanced services in supporting seniors to remain in their homes longer with increased home support, supportive housing and assisted living facilities. However, the support has not kept pace with the increased demands of an aging population.  Waitlists are increasing, as are the numbers of home-care complaints: see the Seniors Advocate Report for 2018, released in January of 2019.  

There have been some improvements locally with the development of Silver City Gardens (supportive housing) and Rosewood Village (subsidized assisted living and complex care). But we are an aging population.

Unfortunately, concerns remain regarding seniors’ care and how it is delivered not only in the Lower Columbia communities, but throughout Interior Health and province-wide.  SPCS declares that it will continue to focus on the following concerns:

- Home Support services not meeting the full needs of clients; hours of service provided don’t necessarily meet the need to support clients in their homes.

- Early discharge of seniors from acute care with inadequate publicly-funded Home Support being provided to meet the individual's safety and health needs

- Home Support now funded by client on a sliding scale and there is an increased expectation by IHA for seniors to supplement the few Home Support hours with privately-funded services and increased reliance on family and friends to meet their care needs.

- First available bed policy when waiting for residential care placement is still resulting in some seniors being moved out of their home community in Greater Trail to temporary placements in New Denver and Grand Forks causing hardship of travel for family. In some  instances, the frail senior is being moved to a community where they have no family and no connections. On a positive note, Interior Health has been trying to get these individuals into their first-choice facility within 3 months; but the wait time can be longer which causes increased stress for the client and their family. If the first available bed offered is refused, and the client is currently occupying an acute care bed, they will be offered the options of:

a)    accepting the first available bed which was initially refused

b)    going into a privately-paid residential bed which can cost from $3,000 to $5,000.00 a month

c)    returning home while receiving some Home Support and family is left to pick up the additional 24 hour care and/or hire support from a private- pay agency

d)    paying over $1,300.00 per day for each additional day spent occupying     an acute care bed.

SPCS is holding the vigil on February 19 to increase public awareness of these issues. Anyone who shares their concerns is welcome to join in the vigil.