B.C. Seniors' Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says people are moving into residential care prematurely

Assisted living rules to be relaxed

Health Minister Terry Lake removing restrictions on number of services offered by assisted living facilities

Assisted living facilities in B.C. will soon be able to offer more services to seniors and disabled people to stay independent longer.

Health Minister Terry Lake introduced changes Monday that restrict assisted living providers to two of six prescribed services. Patients requiring more than two are now required to find space in residential care.

The change removes “arbitrary barriers” that have forced B.C. residents into higher-cost and more restrictive residential care before they need it, said B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

“Assisted living is a very important housing option for about 22,000 seniors in this province,” Mackenzie said. “These are your own unit, usually in an apartment-like setting where you can lock the door. You decide who comes in and who you want to keep out, and you’re free to come and go as you wish.”

Daniel Fontaine, CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association, said the change will be welcomed by seniors who want to stay as independent as possible. The association represents 300 non-profit and for-profit operators of residential care, assisted living and home care services.

Designated services, of which only two can currently be provided in assisted living, are:

• assistance with eating, dressing, personal hygiene and other daily activities

• medication management

• therapeutic diets

• financial management

• intensive rehabilitation therapy

• behavioural management