176 – that’s the number of recommendations in the landmark report The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia by the BC Ombudsperson.
The report followed three years of wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders throughout the province. It touches upon all aspects of Seniors Care, from community-based home care to Assisted Living and long-term residential care. The report acknowledges the complexities involved in providing comprehensive, high quality care for our aging population. Each recommendation relates to one or more of the report findings’ key themes: support, protection, consistency, and choice.
In response to the report, the BC Ministry of Health has issued an Action Plan with a series of initiatives to improve the lives of older adults, and of their families and caregivers. Nurses and others will be watching closely as this action plan and future initiatives to address this important policy challenge unfold over time. This is the kind of advocacy issue that nurses understand well, given their close proximity to the lives affected by some of the current shortages, system disjunctures and coordination gaps. BC nurses will be enthusiastic about having an ongoing role in the public dialogue around viable, evidence-based solutions to the system challenges that face us all in the coming years as the aging population expands.
Nurses can play a central role in translating the Ombudsperson’s recommendations into reality, both in everyday care and by advocating for change at the policy level. For example, nurses working closely with older adults in their homes can help their clients navigate the programs and resources that are available to Seniors and their caregivers. In facility settings, such as Assisted Living and Residential Care, nurses can make sure that care plans reflect an individuals’ unique care needs and provide leadership in the delivery of high quality care. We can also participate in committees that focus on improvements and innovations in Seniors Care at all levels – from our local workplaces to provincial groups. By coming together to discuss these challenges and issues, by finding ways to be involved in the workplace, at the local policy level, and in the context of provincial public policy, nurses can be an important part of the solution.
To view the report, which is in three parts:
To view the Minister of Health’s response to the report, and the commitments that have been made to take action on this issue: http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2012HLTH0011-000154.htm
Jennifer Baumbusch is an Assistant Professor at the UBC School of Nursing. She has over 15 years of experience in Seniors Care, with a particular focus on long-term residential care. Jennifer teaches nursing care of older adults in the undergraduate program, and conducts research focused on the organization of long-term residential care, as well as healthcare for vulnerable populations, such as older adults with developmental disabilities. Her grandmother lives in a long-term care facility so Jennifer also brings the perspective of family member to all aspects of her role.
BC nurses who work with seniors in a variety of settings will be pleased to see the Ombudsman's Report and the Ministry of Health's response. Respect, choice, dignity, support and independence for aging seniors are emphasized. In addition, the Ombudsman has highlighted more hidden concerns related to dementia and behavioral issues such as the use of restraints and psychoactive medications. While many issues are addressed in the Ministry's response, the impact of cohorting residents with behavioral concerns related to dementia with residents without cognitive impairment are not addressed. Nor is it clear how the Ministry will equalize the differences in services, standards, monitoring and fees between facilities regulated under the Hospital Act and those regulated under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act. While it is heartening to learn that BC Senior's will soon have the highest minimal income in Canada, with the cost of living, their remaining income will not buy many ice cream cones.
This is the time for nurses to provide leadership in senior's health care and to advocate for the implementation of the Ombudsman's recommendations. Choice, respect and dignity are not optional at any age!
Thank you for unpacking this important document for us! There is so much that needs to change, and when I hear talk about the need for “improvements and innovations in Seniors Care at all levels” I can’t help but think about the amazing leadership opportunities that are in front of us. Starting in my own workplace, I want to ask “What kinds of improvement and innovations in education will allow nurses to take up these opportunities?”
Thank you for this Jennifer. I've been a passionate advocate for seniors care and I think your blog really helps to highlight the issues and what the role of nurses should be.