Conroy pushes bill for seniors advocate

MLA Katrine Conroy has undertaken a campaign to put seniors’ issues on a more public stage after a dismal report card on senior's care.

In the wake of a dismal report card on seniors’ care in B.C. the region’s MLA has undertaken a campaign to put seniors’ issues on a more public stage.

Katrine Conroy has introduced a bill in the provincial legislature to create a senior’s advocate, an independent voice for seniors not connected to the seniors or to the political process.

As the seniors’ health critic for the NDP, Conroy brought the “Representative for Seniors Act” to the legislature recently in an effort to create an independent position where people can go to when they have issues or concerns around seniors care in this province.

She said the report card, released in early November, gave the province a ‘C’ in making a commitment to care and the rights of seniors in residential care facilities, a ‘C’ in access to information, and a ‘D’ in providing family members and residents with a greater say in seniors’ care by supporting resident and family councils.

“Seniors shouldn’t be treated like this in the province,” she said. “They built this province, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

In 2008 the BC Ombudsperson began an extensive investigation into the state of seniors’ care in B.C.

The first of two reports, released in 2009, provided the provincial government with recommendations to improve quality of life for seniors living in B.C.’s residential care facilities.

In response to the Ombudsperson’s report, the province passed a “Residents’ Bill of Rights,” said Conroy, but it has not complied with the important aspects of the report.

“There is no monitoring, there’s nobody to make sure they’re being implemented, that there are supposed to be resident’s councils that have a voice within their facilities — no one is monitoring this to make sure it happens,” she said.

A second and much more comprehensive Ombudsperson’s report is expected out in spring 2012 and will include approximately 150 recommendations to improve home support, assisted living and residential care.

Ombudsperson’s recommendations:

1. Establish a single website with information about every licensed residential care facility in the province so that seniors and their families have access to the information they need in order to make informed decisions about residential care.

2. Provide family members and residents with a greater say in their care by:

• Expanding the role of resident and family councils, and entrenching this expanded role in legislation or regulation;

• Providing guidelines for facility operators on how to support resident and family councils;

• Establishing a staff position within the provincial government, as well as each facility and health authority, to assist and respond to resident and family councils in a timely manner; and

• Providing support to establish regional resident and family council organizations.