03/01/2013 04:13 EST | Updated 05/01/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. expands program to help seniors stay in their homes with customized care

VANCOUVER - The B.C. government is expanding a program aimed at helping seniors stay in their homes as long as possible.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says the Home is Best program, which has been a pilot project in the Vancouver and Fraser Health regions, will be rolled out to all five health authorities in the province.

The program provides customized in-home care for seniors, ranging from bathing and dressing to taking medication.

The Home is Best pilot project in the Vancouver region saw a 30 per cent decline in seniors needing hospital acute care, and a 25 per cent reduction in emergency department visits, which MacDiarmid says helps save money for the health system.

She says health authorities will get $50 million a year over the next three years to implement Home is Best as well as to enhance other primary and community care supports.

Some of these other in-home care programs are aimed at helping people with mental health and drug abuse problems.