Newsletter – February 2015
I have received the article below from BC’s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie which outlines her position and her initial goals.
This appoint is long overdue. The provincial government has paid lip service to the needs and care of seniors for years. A couple of years back they went so far as to appoint a Minister of seniors affairs, but that went nowhere and the position was dropped. Yet another example of their lack of substance to their endless announcements.
I recently attended a town hall meeting in Duncan that was held by the new Seniors Advocate in which she outlined her role, her goals and intentions. I was very impressed by her presence, her knowledge base and her attitude to her new role and the need to effect change for seniors in B.C.. Isobel Mackenzie’s previous work experience with many facets of seniors care are impressive and she is certainly the right person to hold this office. We must all do whatever we can to support the seniors advocate and her office if they are to achieve and realise their full potential as the voice of the basic needs and requirements of Seniors in B.C..
B.C.’s Seniors Advocate Begins the Journey
In March 2014, the Province of British Columbia appointed Isobel Mackenzie as the first seniors advocate. Isobel brought over 20 years’ experience to the role, working with seniors in home care, licensed care, community services and volunteer services.
The responsibilities of the Advocate include monitoring seniors’ services, listening to the issues that seniors say are important to them, providing information and referrals to individuals for services and supports, analyzing broad-reaching issues, and making recommendations for change to the Minister of Health, service providers and health authorities.
Over the next few years, the Advocate will inform seniors about the quality and adequacy of services provided to them in B.C., including surveying residential care clients, recipients of publically-funded home support, and users of HandyDART. The Advocate will also examine the use of the SAFER subsidy, waitlists for housing and residential care, income levels, elder abuse and the provision of dementia care.
The Office of the Seniors Advocate will begin the review and analysis of seniors’ services with a full review of housing, from independent home ownership and rental, to assisted living and residential care. A report on the review’s findings will be issued in the spring of 2015.
Mackenzie expects that analysis and reporting on data, adding in seniors’ input, as well as listening to the voices of the Seniors Advocate Council of Advisors will begin to make incremental changes in the system of supports for seniors in B.C.
“It has taken a long time to get to where we are today, so changes won’t happen overnight,” said Mackenzie, “but there are some early recommendations that can make an important impact for individual seniors.”
Challenges expected for this role include affecting change in a reasonable amount of time, ensuring the recommendations are actually what seniors want, and making sure that seniors voices are reflected in advice to government and service providers.
The Office of the Seniors Advocate can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-877-952-3181 (toll-free) – in Victoria at 250-952-3181. Read the Advocate’s first report on the website at www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca