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Some residential care seniors could be living independently, says B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie

04/08/2015 08:18 EDT | Updated 06/08/2015 05:59 EDT
A new report by B.C.'s Seniors Advocate says too many elderly seniors are living in residential care who could be living independently.

"If you are not in need of that level of care, it can be a rather uninspiring experience to live in such a restricted community, which is what you need when you are providing the safety for higher acute clients," said Isobel Mackenzie.

Mackenzie released the report, Placement, Drugs and Therapy... We Can Do Better, on Tuesday after reviewing health assessment records from B.C.'s 25,000 seniors in residential care and 29,000 seniors receiving home care.

The seniors advocate has worked in home care for 20 years. She says up to 15 per cent of B.C. seniors currently living in residential care are incorrectly housed and should be given access to assisted living or community care.

Too much medication prescribed

Mackenzie's report also finds an overuse of medications and a lack of rehabilitation therapy in care facilities.

It states that 33 per cent of residential care patients are being prescribed antipsychotic medication, yet only four per cent are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

"This overuse, or misuse, or misalignment of prescription is problematic when you look at 50 per cent of seniors in residential care are on nine or more medications."

Similarly, nearly half of residential care clients are prescribed antidepressant medication when only 24 per cent have actually been diagnosed with depression.

Government not surprised by findings

B.C.'s Minister of Health Terry Lake says the provincial government is working diligently to address these issues.

"We are working hard with various organizations that are in seniors' care to reduce the reliance on antipsychotics and prescription medicine in general.

"I think those are two findings that are not a real surprise to us and we will be working on to address."

The Office of the Seniors Advocate will release a comprehensive review of seniors' housing in late spring.

To hear the full interview with B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie, listen to the audio labelled: Seniors Advocate

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