New residential care rates to benefit low-income seniors

About a quarter of seniors in residential care in B.C. will now receive up to an additional $600 a year.

About a quarter of seniors in residential care in B.C. will now receive up to an additional $600 a year.

The change is the result of the Province increasing the minimum monthly disposal income amount for residential care clients to accommodate a federal government supplement top-up of $50. Under a revised residential care rate structure, the monthly minimum disposable income amount will rise to $325, up from $275.

Raising the minimum amount will allow low-income seniors to keep the new federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) increase, which was announced by the federal government in July 2011. The GIS is a federal program which provides additional money to low-income seniors, on top of the Old Age Security pension:

Currently, residential care clients pay up to 80 per cent of their after-tax income toward their room and board costs, provided they are left with at least $275 a month to cover personal expenses. The GIS increase led the Province to raise the amount retained by low-income seniors to $325 a month so they will not lose the extra income provided by the top-up.

New residential care rates, which take effect Feb. 1, 2012, will range from $932 a month to a maximum of $3,022. Private pay rates are usually in the $4,000 to $5,000 a month range.

To set the client rates, the Province uses income tax data from the Canada Revenue Agency. The rate-setting process usually begins in August, and is completed in the fall. Rates are then provided to health authorities, who mail notification letters to clients, informing them of the new rates.

The provincial government subsidizes the room and board costs of over 90 per cent of all residential care clients. No one who needs residential care services will be turned away as hardship provisions are available for those who are unable to pay. Every client will also continue to have 100 per cent of the cost of health-care services provided in residential care facilities covered by the Province.

Minister of Health Michael de Jong said, “In the spirit of co-operation, we have been working with the federal government to support seniors in residential care. We wanted to ensure those low-income seniors who qualify for the federal income supplement top-up did not lose this extra income. That’s why we are increasing the provincial monthly disposable income amount to assist those who need it most.”

About 7,000 clients are eligible for the provincial $50 increase.

Residential care provides 24-hour nursing care, as well as room, board and recreational programs to more than 26,000 British Columbians with complex care needs.

The cost of operating a residential-care bed is estimated to be $6,000 a month.

Residents receive coverage for most prescription medication, medical supplies and equipment.