Care homes lack cash

According to the Hospital Employees' Union, almost all residential care homes in B.C. are not funded to meet the government's own minimum staffing guidelines. 

The 49,000-member union is calling for immediate action.  
"When there are not enough staff on shift to do their jobs to the highest possible standard, seniors and those who provide their care are put at risk," said HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside. "Staff simply cannot provide the level and quality of care needed to keep themselves and their residents safe."

Eighty-five per cent of the province's seniors' care homes are understaffed, according to the third annual Residential Care Facilities, Quick Facts Directory released by B.C.'s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie, on Wednesday. 

Seniors are often not receiving proper hygiene or care because care aides are always extremely rushed, says Whiteside, adding that sometimes care aids don't even have the time to properly hydrate the residents.  
"Certainly, this is not the kind of care any one of us would want for ourselves or for our loved ones," Whiteside said.

Since 2017 the situation has only improved by six per cent. 
"We clearly need to fast-track plans to improve staffing levels," Whiteside said. "At this pace, it will take at least another six years before 50 per cent of care homes receive enough funding to meet minimum guidelines. We must do better."

The conservative government announced a four-year, $500 million plan to add more staff before the last election. 
All three parties in the legislature have said they support the need for higher staffing levels in residential care facilities.
Whiteside is asking for an immediate investment in the funding needed to bring all facilities up to the current minimum of 3.36 hours per resident per day.  

Staffing levels need to be legislated and enforced, says Whiteside.  
"Clearly, guidelines are not enough."
The 49,000-member Hospital Employees' Union, represents about 20,000 residential care staff working in facilities across the province.

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