NORTH VANCOUVER -- Home care providers are raising concerns about whether their workers will be able to get to elderly clients who need support during the planned three-day transit shutdown next week.

“Approximately half of our staff and most of the caregivers out there in home care rely on public transit to get to work,” said Margot Ware with Shylo Home Healthcare, which provides care to seniors who need help with everything from meal preparation to medications.

“So there are clients out there, if their caregivers don’t show up, they may not be able to get out of bed for the day, which is obviously extremely dangerous,” Ware said.

Her fears are being echoed by Mike Klassen with the BC Care Providers Association, who said some of the elderly people who need help are housebound or have mobility challenges.

“What this probably means is that a lot of seniors may not get the services that they need, which is really unfortunate,” Klassen said. “If this continues for a longer period of time, then it’s perhaps incumbent upon family members and even neighbours to be able to check on seniors in their homes.”

For now, the bus and SeaBus shutdown is only planned for next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The union representing bus drivers and maintenance workers has said it will likely make a decision on any further action sometime next weekend.

Ware said her company is working on contingency plans, and is also looking at prioritizing clients based on need – if necessary.

“Ideally, we want to get to all of our clients,” Ware said, adding it may not be realistic if they’re having to drive their staff back and forth.

“We may not be able to make it to some of the clients that we just go to socialize with, or perhaps we help them with some grocery shopping.”

She added there are caregivers who are hired privately and have no back-up in situations like these.

“They don’t have managers who can go out there and drive them to work, or friends and family, so there’s unfortunately a lot of people who may just have to go without,” Ware said. “I hope not, but that’s the risk.”