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LETTER: 'For profit' senior facilities not the right answer

To The Editor:

Studies show that on average, "for profit" senior facilities in comparison to "non-profit" and publicly owned, provide the worst quality of care.

Why?

The answer is contained within a report published by the journal PLOS Medicine, due to concern over combining the care of seniors with profit.

For profit facilities direct their excess revenue to the owners and stockholders, whereas non-profit and publicly owned net income is used to benefit their clients.

For profit tend to have lower costs and lower client to staff ratios because money diverted to investors, leaves less money to pay for staff.

Nine-hundred and fifty-two for profit facilities, put into four different categories depending upon degree of profit, were investigated. The number of serious deficiencies reported by regulatory inspectors was much higher in the facilities with the largest degree of profit which suggests an "inverse effect of profit on quality".

Has our government aware of these facts, implemented a strict system of monitoring to ensure that our seniors are protected from neglect due to the favor of profit?

No.

The lack of enforcement to ensure the health and safety of our seniors is the main reason why so many of the facilities in BC do not meet gov. guidelines on staffing levels. The recommendation by the Ombudsman to apply fines and penalties to ensure compliance was completely rejected by the Health Ministry.

The Ministry is so set against enforcement that instead, the Health Authorities apply the system of "progressive compliance". This allows for operators to commit multiple infractions over the course of years, with no more consequences than verbal and written warnings. The government has tried to explain this by saying that the only other recourse is to shut the facility down which would be too much of a hardship on the residents.

They failed to mention the one consequence allowed within progressive compliance that could improve the quality of care. The appointment of a gov. administrator that attends the facility with the purpose of training the staff to implement the required procedures to bring them into compliance. This consequence is very rarely applied.

Why?

Because this government is catering to the corporations that are in the profitable business of neglecting our seniors.

PLOS Medicine mentioned a safeguard that would help to protect our seniors. That the gov. should require that public funding be earmarked and spent on mandated minimum direct care staffing levels with no discretion for facilities to redirect this money to other budgetary items, including profit generation.

Has our government done this?

No.

The truth behind the privatization of senior care by for profit corporations is that the only people not benefiting from this arrangement is our seniors. These facilities are recommended as a good investment because of large dividends that are "derived from government funding".

Therefore, the last logical question is: How is our government benefiting from this arrangement?

Judy Galley
Sorrento, BC