Skip to main content

No consultation: B.C. plan to expel seniors from hospitals may not be 'attainable,' care providers say

The Ministry of Health did not consult with the very care home operators it expects to take in seniors being expelled from hospitals in preparation of a surge in serious illnesses anticipated from COVID-19 and influenza, CTV News has learned. 

The president of the BC Care Providers Association said even though it had a regular meeting with the ministry in the morning, the group learned of the plan to transfer 500 hospital patients to long-term care when the minister announced it publicly Wednesday afternoon. The affected patients are ones who would be better served in long-term care than in hospital, according to officials, who proposed the transfer as part of a plan to respond to an worst-case scenario of serious respiratory illnesses.

“It would've been nice to have had some consultation on this so we could understand how we can achieve this goal,” said Terry Lake. “I'm not sure if it's attainable, we just don't have the people.”

He emphasized that while there are plenty of empty beds, the staff required to care for the person in the bed is the key problem and will take time to address.

On Thursday, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control provided a weekly update that saw hospitalizations attributed to COVID-19 rise steeply for the first time since July, suggesting the latest wave of infections, and demand on the health-care system, is already here.

Lake wants to know if patients assigned to care homes far from their communities and families will be forced to leave, as they are in Ontario under penalty of a $400 per day fine.

“We don’t know because we haven't been brought into these discussions," Lake said. 


The exodus of trained professionals from the health-care field has been a growing issue for more than a year, with nursing staff being the biggest shortfall.

The BC Nurses’ Union says it was surprised to hear about government decanting some 1,300 patients into their own homes or assisted living, in addition to the 500 requiring more comprehensive care in long-term care facilities.

"We would like to hear what their plan is around that because we don't know," said BCNU president Aman Grewal, who pointed out whether it’s in a care home or their own residence, patients may have to wait for necessary support, wound care or other medical treatments.

“If there isn't enough capacity to intake them, then either other patients are going to be deferred or it's going to take a lot longer going into the system and it's going to have an impact on their families.”

A Vancouver Island woman spoke out this week about her experience with her elderly blind and paraplegic mother who’s terminally ill from cancer and whose caregivers have missed several shifts. On two occasions, her family was not notified that no one showed up at all, and she was left alone and in considerable pain.


When asked why he hadn’t consulted with stakeholders, which has been a recurring complaint across the health-care sector, the minister replied that they found out yesterday and raised the example of a single care home in Burnaby that had been refurbished and “has new spaces”; he did not specify how many. 

“We're working and will be working with care providers and with people to ensure that our care homes that currently have fewer than the capacity of people in them or residents, will be able to work to that capacity and can, in fact, decant,” said Adrian Dix, though he did not say where the staff would come from in such a short amount of time.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the double-whammy of COVID-19 and influenza patients could hit B.C. hospitals as early as November, which means there are only four weeks to figure that out.

Lake pointed out not only are food costs up 11 per cent year over year for care home operators, but they’re increasingly relying on agency nurses to fill critical staffing shortages, which cost double what unionized public sector nurses cost, meaning operating budgets aren’t going as far as they did even a year ago. Top Stories

Stay Connected