A report that examines the health and well-being of seniors in the province is getting mixed reactions from the executive director of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society.
“[I] am pleased to hear some of the results and discouraged by others,” said Maria Perretta.
Monitoring Seniors Services 2019 is a report published annually by the Office of the Seniors Advocate, which measures the performance of senior services across health care, housing, transportation, income supports, and personal supports in British Columbia.
Among the several areas examined, the report found that the rate of flu vaccinations is low. Only 37 per cent of seniors in B.C. received the publicly funded flu vaccine, while 87 per cent of long-term care residents were vaccinated.
“It looks as though [the number of] flu vaccinations is low, which is interesting considering the number of places, such as pharmacies, doctors offices, malls and seniors centres, offering free vaccinations,” Perretta said.
Isobel Mackenzie, author of the report, said vaccination rates among seniors and the public need work.
“The public health data is clear: vaccine efficacy diminishes with age,” she said. “The best protection for frail and elderly seniors is not only the vaccination of seniors, but of the people around them.”
The report also drew attention to the rising concern about subsidized housing.
This year is the fifth straight year there is a decline in the number of seniors subsidized housing units in the province, and an increase in the number of seniors on the waiting list, which increased by 14 per cent.
“This is very common concern of many seniors in our community who visit our outreach coordinator at Ridge Meadows Seniors Society,” Perretta said. “If seniors do manage to find suitable housing in our community, the next biggest concern that we see is the ability to secure in-home services to support them to live independently and safety.”
The province’s Adult Day Programs have seen increased involvement with 10 per cent more clients and a 1.5 per cent decrease in the wait list.
“Adult Day Centres are an important part of one aging in place at home,” Perretta explained. “Not only for the client but for the caregivers to access respite.”
But she wonders if the increase is related to additional centres being opened or if the number of visits have been reduced for existing clients to allow more opportunity for others.
However, Perretta was pleased to learn the increase to income support, including the elimination of MSP payments for seniors and pension increases.
Meanwhile, the OSA is working to better track reports of elder abuse in the province and plan to release their findings in the new year.
“The current approach is not providing us with reliable information on the magnitude or root causes of elder abuse and neglect,” said Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.
“For this reason, the Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) has launched a systemic review of the current system and we expect a report with recommendations will be available later in 2020.”