On the Sunshine Coast, an Effort to Reinvent Senior Care

We want to create a co-op model of long-term care, learning from COVID-19 tragedies.

By Paula Larrondo and John Richmond 29 Apr 2020 | TheTyee.ca

Paula Larrondo is a Chilean-Canadian activist and vice-president of Casa Salvador Allende. She has been a clinical social worker in medicine, oncology, palliative care and long-term care for more than 25 years. John Richmond grew up in B.C. He’s been a social worker in fields including harm reduction, supportive housing development, emergency medicine and complex continuing care.

Our proposition? Put the people who know best and have direct experience in seniors care, in charge of seniors care. Photo via Shutterstock.

[Excerpt] The for-profit nursing home business has been in trouble for years.

In February, B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie tabled a reportdocumenting many of the shortcomings of the for-profit care sector, such as higher administration costs and 207,000 funded but undelivered care hours. This is in contrast to a non-profit sector that actually spent more per resident than it was funded for on delivering direct care and service delivery.

While the for-profit system has clearly failed, the non-profit system has its own problems. Residents of such facilities can have their own concerns with, for example, the dilapidated state of physical facilities, overcrowding and lack of cleanliness, and the challenge of raising complaints within a big bureaucracy.

As writer Nora Loreto has documented on her Twitter account, several facilities with a high number of deaths are non-profit or government-operated nursing homes.

There is an alternative to our current health care and seniors care delivery models however: the co-operative model. The co-op model, in particular a type used in Quebec called the “solidarity co-op” or multi-stakeholder co-operative, would empower seniors and workers by giving them a direct say in everything from design and organization of a facility to the day-to-day operations to the negotiations with funders to budgets.

As social entrepreneurs and activists in the local food movement, housing and energy co-ops and credit unions, we hope to work with the Sunshine Coast community to stop a proposed for-profit long-term care facility and replace it with a co-operative model. To be clear: we support any alternative to the private model.

The proposed Trellis Seniors Services Ltd. project on the Sunshine Coast originates with Mary and Dan McDougall of North Vancouver. Mary McDougall has been a player in B.C.’s for-profit senior care industry going back to the early 2000s.

During the Christy Clark BC Liberal government, Trellis signed a contract with Vancouver Coastal Health to build three facilities in Richmond, North Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast.

We share their concerns and are among those proposing an alternative approach. A new multi-stakeholder co-operative model of long-term care and assisted living on the Sunshine Coast would give what John Restakis called, in a groundbreaking 2008 report on co-operative seniors care, “control rights” — rights that would “offer some assurance that other interests will not override the interests of those receiving care.”

Read more at: On the Sunshine Coast, an Effort to Reinvent Senior Care