The SOS (Support Our Seniors) Comox Valley is sending a delegation to interview each of the candidates in the upcoming provincial election.
We are a non-partisan group but want them all to know of the top political issues that concern us. These are the issues that hundreds of seniors and their care-givers have brought to us over the past seven years.
We recently co-sponsored a big Town Hall on Seniors’ Health. The guest speakers there summarized the need for integrated health care.
The system now is so piecemeal that it is difficult even for well-educated people to find their way to the right point of entry for any care. If, say, the nursing centre could be expanded and it could become a “one-stop shopping” centre, that would help a lot. That would be a first step.
Another highlight at the Town Hall was on home support.
Most seniors we encounter want to stay at home as long as possible. They need more available services like housekeeping, which was taken away from home support years ago.
They also need more consistent care, and by that we mean, as much as possible, having the same worker coming to their home. Seniors have a bit of trouble with change and they need more continuity.
Another independence issue for seniors is in relation to transportation.
Although some of the DriveABLE problems were changed, we would still like the testing to be done by the public Motor Vehicle branch and not contracted out.
For the seniors in the rural areas who have lost their licences, though, the transportation issue needs more resources, since the Handi-Dart service excludes them. Municipalities might have to step up to the plate on this one.
We know from the research that home support saves the medical system huge amounts of funding, compared to hospital and residential care. More of this HS service would be an economic boost.
Now, when someone does need assisted living (AL) or complex care (CC), there is a long waiting list, which means, often, that seniors are put in hospital, taking up an acute care bed, which costs more and is less desirable. The patients waiting for an acute care bed should not be in a hallway, etc.
The need for more AL spaces is more of a problem here in the Comox Valley, since our proportion of seniors is higher than in most other places. The same is true for more CC beds, since seniors often need more care as they age and that means complex care.
One of the recurrent themes brought to us has been the need for more staffing for AL and CC.
We have heard of countless examples of seniors losing their dignity by being left on commodes for much too long since there was no staff person free to assist them. That is only one example of the problems we’ve heard over and over, and we know that the staff don’t like this situation any more than the patients or their relatives.
We would also like to see some provincial standards and training for care aides. This has been recommended by staff and patients alike and we highly support that.
We want to end by saying that we are happy that the seniors’ advocate has been appointed but we now want that role to be independent of cabinet.
Our final wish is that voters will agree with our points and raise them with all of the candidates who come to their door, and, of course, at the all-candidates’ meeting on April 30 at 7 p.m. at the Florence Filberg Centre.
Editor’s note: Gwyn Frayne wrote this on behalf of SOS (Support Our Seniors) Comox Valley.