To the editor:
It has been confirmed by the Senior Advocate’s Report that most senior facilities in British Columbia don’t meet government guidelines for staffing levels.
PLOS Medicine has confirmed that privately owned for-profit facilities on average, have the lowest client to staff ratios.
There are two reasons why for-profit facilities are neglecting our seniors. Greed, and a lack of enforcement by our government.
PLOS investigated 952 for-profit senior facilities. They were put into four categories depending on degree of profit. Serious deficiencies reported by inspectors were much higher in the facilities in the highest-profit category. Their conclusion was: “This suggests an inverse effect of profit on quality.”
The B.C. government continues its refusal to fine or penalize facilities for non-compliance although the Ombudsman has recommended that they do so to ensure the health and safety of our seniors.
The Health Ministry continues to approve of the Health Authorities’ system of monitoring referred to as “progressive compliance.”
This system allows facilities to commit multiple infractions over the course of years with no more consequence than verbal and written warnings.
Restrictions on their licence can be applied and an administrator can be appointed to try to bring them into compliance, but those consequences are used very rarely.
There has always been a concern that caring for seniors for profit could result in neglect.
Therefore, it has been suggested that a safeguard would be a requirement that public funding be earmarked and spent on mandated minimum direct care staffing levels with no discretion for facilities to redirect this money to other budgetary items, including profit generations.
Has the B.C. government taken this step to protect our seniors?
The government appears to be happy because it succeeded in passing on its responsibility for our seniors to the private sector.
The owners and stockholders are happy because of the high dividends generated by neglecting seniors. No one is holding the government or these corporations accountable for violating our seniors’ “residents bill of rights” to be protected from abuse and neglect.