There are about 28,000 seniors in B.C.’s publicly funded residential care facilities, two thirds of them contracted to non-profit or for-profit operators at a cost of $1.3 billion a year. (Flickr/Creative Commons)

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

As Quebec copes with COVID-19 cases in more than 500 senior homes, the latest test results are showing B.C.’s response and staffing restrictions are containing infections before they spread.

As of April 1, there were 21 coronavirus-affected long-term care and assisted living facilities, all in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions, according to B.C. health ministry statistics. After two early outbreaks at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver and the Haro Park Care Centre in Vancouver with multiple fatalities of frail seniors, results of health authority outbreak response team efforts have greatly improved.

“Both of those are really full-blown outbreaks where we have a number of both staff and residents who have been affected,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said March 31, when the total was 19 affected facilities. “But the other ones really reflect the fact that we have taken such an aggressive approach to monitoring, to testing and to preventing illness coming into our long-term care homes.”

Since the two early outbreaks, “the vast majority of them have a single person, either a staff person or a resident who was detected with this illness,” Henry said. “And we have been able to put in place the outbreak measures so that others are not affected, and people are effectively isolated or removed from the home, in terms of the health care workers, so we aren’t transmitting it.”

As of April 1, there have been 25 COVID-19 related deaths in B.C., with only one under the age of 70. Most of the other seniors have died in care facilities, usually with underlying respiratory or other chronic conditions. There were 142 people in B.C. hospitals, where statistics are showing people aged 20 and older can become seriously ill. More than 600 B.C. residents have recovered from the new coronavirus, including the affected health care workers.

In addition to restricting visitors, Henry has made two public health orders for care facility operators. The latest one restricts health care employees from working at more than one facility. It does not apply to doctors, nurse practitioners, paramedics, pharmacists or lab technicians.

“It is necessary for me to make this order to reduce the risk while a plan is being developed and processes are being put in place to provide for a centralized approach to the deployment of staff,” Henry’s order states.

At her April 2 briefing, Henry acknowledged that the ban on working in two or more facilities is so far only in place at the 21 COVID-19 affected facilities. With 20,000 staff at provincial and contracted care homes across the province, implementing the order is taking significant time, she said.

RELATED: B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts care home

RELATED: For-profit care homes spend less on staff: seniors advocate

An earlier order directed contractors and sub-contractors to provide personal and employment-related information on all affected staff to the ministry, to begin a government-led allocation of staffing at contracted long-term care and assisted living facilities, and private hospitals.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Adrian Dix had been working to increase care hours at facilities, most of which were not meeting the province’s minimum standard. He has also appointed administrators to supervise four care homes operated by Retirement Concepts, one each in Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox and Summerland.

In a report released in early February, B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie highlighted that based on available financial data, non-profit care homes spent 59 per cent of their revenues on direct care, compared to 49 per cent of spending by for-profit contractors. She also found lower care aide wages on average in for-profit facilities.

B.C. has $1.3 billion in contracts between senior care contractors and regional health authorities, with about a third of senior facilities owned and operated directly by the health authorities.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A couple of clients took a break from the cold in January on opening day of the Connect Warming Centre. File photo
Courtenay council approves lease extension for Warming Centre

Courtenay council has approved a one-year lease extension and continued in-kind support… Continue reading

From left, NDP party leader John Horgan, Kus-kus-sum project manager Tim Ennis (with his daughter, Kestrel), K’omoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel, and Courtenay-Comox NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard pose for a photo across the estuary from the Kus-kus-sum site. Photo by Terry Farrell
B.C. VOTES 2020: Horgan promises to bridge Kus-kus-sum funding gap

NDP leader John Horgan made what could amount to a major financial… Continue reading

The three candidates vying for the Courtenay-Comox riding: Ronna-Rae Leonard (NDP) Brennan Day (Liberal) and Gillian Anderson (Green)
BC VOTES 2020 – Courtenay-Comox candidates address affordable housing

In an effort to inform the Courtenay-Comox riding constituents, we have supplied… Continue reading

The Comox Valley Hospice Society recently received a generous donation from a personal donor to help fill a fundraising gap created by COVID-19. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Comox Valley Hospice Society receives significant donation

CVHS is facing a fundraising shortage created by the pandemic

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A screenshot from the virtual all-candidates meeting on Monday, Oct. 19 hosted by the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce. (SCREENSHOT)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Mid Island-Pacific Rim candidates weigh in on forestry, tourism, LNG

For the first time ever, Alberni Valley Chamber hosted a virtual all-candidates’ meeting

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Most Read