Proposed Changes to the Community Care and Assisted Living Amendment Act
On March 7, 2016, the provincial government introduced amendments to legislation governing senior housing and care in British Columbia. The proposed changes introduced in Bill 16 Community Care and Assisted Living Amendment Act, 2016 are promising especially for the ageing members of our community. Many of the amendments are derived from recommendations made by the Canadian Centre for Elder Law (“CCEL”) in a report from 2013.
CCEL in association with British Columbia Law Institute have dedicated their time and expertise to improving the legislation and their efforts have resulted in solutions to offer flexibility for vulnerable seniors in the community and even more so in rural British Columbia. Some of the changes include the definition of “assisted living services” and the repeal of the “prescribed services”, definition of “spouse”, and the amendment of section 26.1, which restricts the admission of incapable residents in assisted living.
A noteworthy change is the removal of the restriction on the number of services provided and the removal of the definition “prescribed services.” Currently no more than 2 prescribed services are provided to the residents. The bill proposed the addition of “assisted living services” which include a greater range of services and care to allow residents to maintain their independent life style for a longer period of time. Assisted living services include:
- help with daily activities such as eating, grooming, and dressing;
- managing diet and medication;
- psychosocial support, and;
- assistance with safekeeping of money and personal belongings.
This change will likely delay the transition to extended long term care for some seniors, who are not quite ready to make that move.
The new definition of “spouse” captures common law relationships, specifically a couple who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for a continuous period of at least 2 years. The extension of the meaning of spouse is significant in that it allows the couples who reside together in assisted living and are not legally married to maintain their relationship without having to separate in order to achieve the same level of care. This is especially important if one spouse is fully competent and able to make decisions and the other is losing mental capacity.
The amended Section 26.1 prohibits the admission of residents who are unable to make decisions on their own or take necessary steps to protect themselves in emergency situations. The changes were added to distinguish applicants who risk their own safety and who may jeopardize the safety of other residents and staff. The only exception to accepting seniors with capacity concerns is where the spouse who resides with them is in fact mentally capable and able to make decisions on their behalf and is able to take necessary steps in urgent situations.
For more information on the proposed changes and Bill 16, visit:Bill 16 – 2016: Community Care and Assisted Living Amendment Act, 2016