You read that right. Every year the Province provides 1.3 billion dollars towards long term care, both to non-profit and for profit operators.
If you measure society and culture by how well the seniors are treated we’ve just received a huge “fail” on the report card. Please don’t think this will not impact you~the way seniors care works it takes decades to change, has become increasingly privatized, and what you see is likely what you or the older folks in your house will be considering in years to come.
The Covid-19 virus has made very clear the crisis that comes in warehousing seniors in large care homes~over 82 percent of Covid deaths in Canada are in long term care homes, and this is the highest proportion of pandemic deaths in a study undertaken by the International Long Term Care Policy Network.
The long term care model itself is a pre-baby boom phenomena, one that appealed to the Greatest Generation cohort (born between 1910 and 1924) and the Silent Generation Cohort (born between 1925 and 1945).
These two generations considered having food prepared and served restaurant style in dining rooms, structured and organized activities, and personal service in room cleaning and management a decadent luxury. Today with the Baby Boom Generation (from 1946 to 1964) restaurant meals are part of everyday life, and personal services easily attainable if needed.
Long term care is no longer a non-profit investment. In British Columbia a third of care homes are managed by the health authorities, a third by non-profits, and a third by for-profit companies.
Companies like Trenchant Capital Corporation listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange own scores of care homes. They outright state that since the industry is regulated by the Province, and in provinces like Ontario no new licences have been granted in over 20 years, that they can offer “predictable cash flows”. Seventy percent of funding is received directly from the Province and funding increases annually.
But something happened in the rush to privatization~British Columbia Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie’s Report on Long Term Care, “A Billion Reasons to Care” outlines that not-for-profit care homes spend 24 percent more annually for each resident (about $10,000) and exceed direct care hour targets by over 80,000 hours of what they are publicly funded to deliver. For-profit care homes “failed to deliver 207,000 funded direct care hours”. There’s no government oversight for that funding to return to the Province, so that is left to the privately owned companies as profit.
For-profit care homes also pay their employees less.
As Daphne Bramham writes in the Vancouver Sun “For-profit operators’ wage costs for each hour of direct care is lower across all classifications than the costs at not-for-profits and the homes run directly by health authorities.Some for-profits are paying care aides, who provide two-thirds of the care, nearly a third less than the industry standard, which works out to $6.63 an hour. Part of the difference is that for-profit operators are more likely to hire part-time rather than full-time workers, which eliminates the need to pay benefits.”
How did this happen? Twenty years ago the Province started to contract out long-term care to private operators who opted out of the Health Employers Association .
While the Seniors Advocate’s report on Long Term Care was released in February in advance of the Covid-19 Pandemic, it outlines some of the structural weaknesses that exacerbated the spread of the disease.Read more »