More choices, stronger protection for people in assisted living

Adrian Dix

PEOPLE in assisted living residences, including supportive recovery homes, will have access to more care options and added protection as amendments to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act come into force.

Effective December 1, 2019, these changes and new regulations will give seniors, people living with disabilities and community-care clients, as well as people living in supportive recovery homes, the flexibility to stay in their community, while ensuring that they get the quality of care they need.

“Many seniors in the past have had to make the difficult decision to leave their assisted living residence, which is their home, due to previous restrictions,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Wednesday. “That’s why we are empowering seniors and people living with disabilities with more independence to make choices about where and how they live and receive care.”

Assisted living is a semi-independent type of housing that provides extra supports to help with activities of daily living, such as meals, recreation, medication management and psychosocial supports. It provides residents, many of whom are seniors, adults requiring support in their recovery or people living with disabilities, the choice to live independently in a home-like setting. Accommodations in these programs range from private rooms in a home to an apartment-style building with suites.

The amendments address the challenges of being transferred to long-term care sooner than necessary because of the existing rules which limit assisted living residences to providing no more than two of the following prescribed services: assistance with the activities of daily living, managing medication, provision of and monitoring therapeutic diets, behaviour management, psychosocial supports, and safekeeping of money and personal property.

As a result, seniors who required more than two prescribed services were unable to continue living in assisted living residences, even though they may have been safe and may not have needed the more intensive care provided by long-term care homes. The amendment removes this restriction, creating more choices and opportunities for seniors to exercise their independence.

The changes also increase regulatory oversight for assisted living residences to strengthen protections for residents of assisted living. Through these amendments, the Province will have enhanced oversight powers to ensure the health and safety of residents, including the ability to conduct routine and monitoring inspections and to take action where there is an immediate risk to the health or safety of a resident.

“When people and their families turn to supportive recovery homes for help, they have the right to receive safe, quality care,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “With these new regulations, the Province is working to ensure that the health and safety of people on their recovery journey is front and centre when receiving the services they need.”

As well, new regulations will also increase accountability and oversight of supportive recovery homes throughout B.C. by ensuring employees have necessary skills and training, providing programs and policy information to people and families, supporting transition to connect to services and supports when leaving recovery homes, and developing a personal service plan for each resident’s recovery.

Amendments to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act were passed by the legislature in 2016. The order-in-council brings the amendments made by Bill 16-2016 into force and establishes a new Assist Living Regulation that will set out the requirements operators must meet. It also responds to recommendations from the B.C. seniors advocate and the ombudsperson to improve service options for those individuals in assisted living residences.

Anne Kang, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors, said: “We applaud this amendment, as we have heard from many seniors who wish to live independently, in a secure, safe and home-like environment. We are glad to be able to make this positive change happen for them.”

Guy Felicella, peer clinical advisor, Overdose Emergency Response Centre, BC Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver Coastal Health regional addiction program, added: “The last thing a person suffering in substance use should have to worry about is the safety or integrity of their recovery centre. Every person deserves the same quality of care and protection no matter where they seek treatment in the Province.”

Keir Macdonald, CEO, Phoenix Society, said: “Today’s announcement is a strong step towards building a safer and more reliable range of recovery services in B.C. Service providers, families and individuals seeking resources to help address problematic substance use, need confidence that the houses they are accessing or referring to, are regulated and meet minimum standards.”

Quick Facts:

Assisted living residences offer:

* assistance to adults who can live independently but require some help with daily activities;

* accommodations that range from private rooms in a home, to an apartment-style building with suites;

* housing and hospitality services such as meals and recreation; and

* medication management.

Supportive recovery homes offer:

* housing;

* meal services;

* social and recreational opportunities;

* medication management;

* psychosocial or behaviour supports;

* guidance for daily living and life skills;

* relapse prevention and coping skills; and

* peer counselling.

Learn More:

Assisted Living Registry:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/accessing-health-care/assisted-living-registrar

Assisted Living in B.C.:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/accessing-health-care/home-community-care/care-options-and-cost/assisted-living

Mental health and substance use residences:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/accessing-health-care/assisted-living-registrar/assisted-living-residences/mental-health-and-substance-use-assisted-living

Community Care and Assisted Living Act:
http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/00_02075_01

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