British Columbia offers various home and community care services to individuals requiring assistance with day-to-day life due to health issues or illness. Individuals living in Long-Term Care Homes and Assisted Living Residences are some of British Columbia’s most vulnerable members of society. Long-Term Care Homes provide 24-hour care to elderly residents. Residents in Long-Term Care Homes often have mobility issues or dementia or require palliative care. Assisted Living Residences provide housing units to residents who require daily assistance but can live independently. Residents can be assisted with eating, dressing, bathing, and managing medication, among other things. Assisted Living Residences do not provide 24-hour care.
BC offers private and publicly subsidized Long-Term Care Homes and Assisted Living Residences. In publicly subsidized Long-Term Care Homes, residents pay a monthly charge of 80% of their after-tax income. In publicly subsidized Assisted Living Residences, residents pay a monthly charge of 70% of their after-tax income. The majority of Long-Term Care Homes and Assisted Living Residences in BC are run by private for-profit companies. In 2016, only 2.4% of the Assisted Living Residences were owned by public health authorities, while 53.1% were owned by for-profit companies and 44.5% were owned by non-profit organizations. In private for-profit Long-Term Care Homes and Assisted Living Residences, residents pay the full cost. If residents require additional services, they must pay an additional fee. Unfortunately, many residents cannot afford to pay for additional services to suit their individual needs.
British Columbia has many laws governing the health, safety, and quality of care for seniors living in Long-Term Care Homes and Assisted Living Residences. The Community Care and Assisted Living Act provides a Bill of Rights to residents in Long-Term Care Homes and Assisted Living Residences. The Bill of Rights provides the resident with:
- Commitment to a care plan developed specifically for the individual
- Rights to health, safety and dignity
- Rights to participation and freedom of expression
- Rights to transparency and accountability
Last year, Island Health took over the emergency management of three private for-profit Long-Term Care Homes on Vancouver Island due to complaints of staffing shortages and neglect of the residents. Since Island Heath took over the Long-Term Care Homes, improvements have been made to training staff, creating new staff positions and to purchasing necessary equipment and supplies.
A class action on behalf of a group of residents from Long-Term Care Homes in BC has been brought against the company that owns the Long-Term Care Homes, an investment company, and BC’s Ministry of Health. The class of residents allege “abuse, neglect and mistreatment” (Huebner v PR Seniors Housing Management Ltd, DBA Retirement Concepts, 2020 BCSC 1037). The certification hearing is scheduled to take place no later than June 2021.
Heath Law LLP can help you if you or a loved one have experienced neglect in a Long-Term Care Home or Assisted Living Residence.