The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia (Part 1)

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Authority Ministry of Health Services, Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport
Category Health, Seniors
Classification Public Report No. 46
Type Report

In December 2009, the Ombudsperson issued The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia (Part 1), the first of two reports on the Ombudsperson’s systemic investigation into the care of seniors in B.C. The first report included ten recommendations made to the then Ministry of Health Services and Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport in the following areas: rights for seniors in residential care; access to information about residential care; and the role of resident and family councils. The ministries fully accepted four of the recommendations and these were implemented prior to the 2011/12 fiscal year.

Update on Recommendations

The ministries indicated their acceptance of the intent of the other six recommendations -- R1(c), R1(d), R2(a), R3(a), R3(c) and R3(d).  Since our 2010/11 annual report, the Ministry of Health has made progress toward meeting these recommendations, summarized as follows:

  • The Ministry of Health is tracking compliance with the Residents’ Bill of Rights and intends to report on compliance by posting a summary on the Community Care Facilities Licensing website in September 2012 (Recommendation 1(d))
  • The Ministry of Health intends to improve the SeniorsBC website, by September 2012, to improve access and navigation and include more information regarding care and support options, how to access health care services, eligibility criteria for publicly subsidized services,  wait times, urgency criteria, patient charges and hardship waivers. An updated BC Seniors’ Guide will be published by December 2012 (Recommendation 2(a))
  • The Ministry of Health requires health authorities to report twice annually on the status of active resident and family councils in each facility in its region, as part of its Provincial Performance Management Framework for Residential Care Facilities (Recommendation 3(c))
  • The Ministry of Health implemented a policy that makes the health authorities responsible for encouraging and providing opportunities for resident and family councils to participate in regional education and networking opportunities (Recommendation 3(d))

As indicated above, the ministries of Health Services and Healthy Living and Sport fully accepted four of the Ombudsperson’s ten recommendations – R1(a), R1(b), R2(b) and R3(b). Recommendations R1(a) and R1(b) were accepted and implemented prior to fiscal year 2010/2011. The remaining two accepted recommendations were implemented in 2010/2011 as follows:

  • The ministries reviewed the information website in Ontario as we recommended. They also reviewed the California HealthCare Foundation website that is discussed in the report and held a teleconference with the organization to ask about the funding required to implement and maintain its information system. The Ministry of Health informed us that the required funding was “significant.” Following this review, a decision was made to continue to focus on improved consistency and access to information available on health authority websites and the SeniorsBC website [Recommendation R2(b)].
  • Although the ministries agreed to provide guidelines to operators on the types of support to offer resident and family councils by March 10, 2010, the timeline for this recommendation was not met. However, in September 2010 we received a draft “Guidelines for the Development of Resident or Family Councils” that was subsequently amended in response to the concerns we expressed in October 2010. The Ministry of Health provided the guidelines to the health authorities in January 27, 2011 [Recommendation R3(b)].
While the Ministries of Health Services and Healthy Living and Sport indicated their acceptance of the intent of the other six recommendations – R1(c), R1(d), R2(a), R3(a), R3(c) and R3(d) – they proposed alternative actions that did not appear to adequately address the issues identified. However, we welcomed updates about any actions taken with the intention of implementing our recommendations and were informed that the following actions were taken in fiscal year 2010/2011.
  • R1(c) – Rather than accepting the recommendation to develop a reliable and objective process to monitor and evaluate the degree to which the residents’ rights are respected, the ministry has taken the following steps:
    • obtained agreement from the five regional health authorities to report quarterly to the ministry about complaints to Patient Care Quality Offices (PCQOs) or Medical Health Officers about residents’ rights. The first reporting period was for April through June 2010
    • in the course of conducting monitoring activities, the health authorities’ licensing staff monitored compliance by facilities with the Residents’ Bill of Rights and reported their findings to the ministry.
  • R1(d) – The ministry advised that it plans to post a summary of the first year results of monitoring on the Bill of Rights page on the Community Care Licensing website in the fall of 2011. 
  • R2(a) – The ministry has:
    • directed the five regional health authorities to enhance and standardize their residential care web pages and to include searchable information about the publicly subsidized residential care facilities within their regions
    • completed the provincial SeniorsBC website, which provides information of interest to seniors and includes links to each health authority’s website.
Date Thursday, December 17, 2009