by Kerstin Auer —
The pandemic has taken a toll on all British Columbians, especially on those living in long-term care and assisted-living residences. One of the programs that has aimed to keep seniors safe and healthy since its inception in 2016 is EquipCare BC, formerly called Seniors Safety Quality Improvement Program (SSQIP). EquipCare BC is now getting a boost in funding, with the province investing an additional $14 million for health, safety, and quality improvements in publicly funded long-term care (LTC) and assisted-living homes, according to a press release from the provincial government.
“Seniors who live in care homes deserve to feel safe and have the best quality of life possible,” said Adrian Dix, minister of health. “That’s why we’re continuing to make improvements to long-term care services and provide funding to EquipCare BC program for the next two years. This program has helped to protect LTC residents and the staff who care for them during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is an important initiative in enriching the lives of the most vulnerable older adults in our province.”
Program funding has been administered through the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) since 2020 and publicly funded LTC homes, like the Gillis House and Nicola Meadows in Merritt, will be able to benefit.
“We are thankful for the Ministry of Health’s investment in this important program,” said Terry Lake, CEO, BC Care Providers Association and EngAge BC. “The EquipCare BC fund allows publicly funded long-term care and assisted-living operators to purchase items and equipment which support safety and quality of life, ensuring vulnerable elders the best care possible.”
Eligible expenses are items to promote and enhance safety, such as additional lifts, bathing equipment and bathtubs, nurse-call systems, environmental cleaning equipment, medical bed mattresses, and urgent-response systems. EquipCare BC has seen substantial funding since the beginning of the pandemic – $32 million since 2020 – and has been utilized by 99 percent of eligible publicly funded LTC homes as well as 77 percent of eligible assisted-living residences in the past year, noted the press release.
“Supporting older adults in aging comfortably and safely is a key priority for our government,” said Harwinder Sandhu, parliamentary secretary for seniors’ services and long-term care. “This investment is another step toward improving the lives of seniors throughout B.C. It builds on our previous actions like adding more single-occupancy long-term care rooms around the province and funding supports for seniors who wish to remain in their homes as long as possible.”
For more information about EquipCare BC or about the BCCPA, visit www.bccare.ca