British Columbia Health Care Services for Seniors
Seniors living in British Columbia and their caregivers and relatives can get home-based and community-based help through the province’s home and community care offices. Each of BC’s 5 regional health authorities has offices that arrange for needs assessments, verify eligibility, and determine whether you or your loved one may qualify for reduced rates for some client services based on income. The local Home Health office can also direct you to other healthcare services you may need that are provided by BC Health and by private-pay providers in your area.
Who is eligible for Home and Community Care services?
Adult Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary resident permit holders who have lived for at least 3 months in BC may qualify for subsidized home and community care. In order to receive services, you or your loved one must have chronic or acute care needs that can be met at home or in the community. Examples include post-hospitalization care, care that reduces trips to the emergency department, care that eliminates the need for admission to a hospital or long-term care facility, and care to manage a life-limiting illness.
Beyond those general guidelines, BC Health has particular needs criteria for a range of services such as adult day programs, assisted living placement, community nursing and rehabilitation, home support, and respite care. You can find detailed assessment information for each type of care offered here.
British Columbia Regional Health Authorities
Each of BC Health’s 5 Regional Health Authorities has multiple local Home Health offices, which are the point of contact for Home and Community Care.
Vancouver Coastal Health is the regional authority serving the City of Vancouver and the surrounding towns as well as Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and the surrounding communities. VCH serves some 25% of all BC residents. The VCH Home and Community Care Access Line is available to residents at 604-263-7377.
Fraser Health serves more than 1.5 million people in Burnaby and other areas between Vancouver and the US border. Home Health offices in Burnaby, Fraser Valley, Langley, and 4 other cities serve seniors and caregivers who need help. The Fraser Health Home Health Service Line number is 855-412-2121.
Vancouver Island Health serves more than 750,000 residents on Vancouver Island and on the mainland between Rivers Inlet and Powell River. Residents may visit or call one of the authority’s 17 Home Health offices, or contact the South, Central, and North Island General Enquiries lines for Home and Community Care information.
Interior Health covers the BC’s Southern Interior and operates 46 Home and Community Care offices in local communities across the region. To begin the process or to learn more about what’s available, you or your family member should contact the nearest Home and Community Care office.
Northern Health serves 300,000 people in the largest of the province’s Regional Health Authorities. There are 27 Home and Community Care offices ready to help area residents.
In addition to these 5 Regional Health Authorities, BC’s First Nations Health Authority serves the province’s Aboriginal and First Nations residents by coordinating its community care services, including chronic disease management, nursing care, and elder abuse prevention, with each regional authority’s services. Within the Vancouver Coastal Health region, for example, culturally relevant adult day programs, wellness programs, and self-directed home care programs are provided for Aboriginal and First Nations clients.
BC seniors can self-refer to their health authority’s Home Health or Home and Community Care office to start the eligibility-verification and needs-assessment processes. Referrals can also come from relatives, friends, legal guardians, doctors, nurses, social workers, and pharmacists who see a need for care.
What services are provided through Home and Community Care?
Each health authority offers a variety of home and community care programs, based on needs in the region. Some programs are found in all regions while others are unique to a particular region. For example, Vancouver Island Health home care programs for seniors include:
- Acquired brain injury services for patients living with damage from strokes, tumors, and accidents.
- Adult day services for seniors who need recreational and social opportunities in a supervised setting during the workday.
- Case management services to locate and coordinate care and communication among seniors, families, and caregivers.
- Choice in Supports for Independent Living (CSIL), a program that funds self-managed in-home care for qualified seniors.
- Community nutrition services from a registered dietitian for people with chronic illnesses, who have special feeding issues, or who are recovering from surgery.
- Convalescent care provides a transitional living setting between the hospital and home for seniors who require extra help but no longer need hospital care.
- Equipment and supplies for end-of-life care through the BC Palliative Care Benefits Program.
- Nursing services in the home and at local nursing clinics.
- Home health monitoring for people with heart failure.
- Home support, which includes bathing, dressing, and medication management.
- Hospice palliative care for people in the late stages of life-limiting diseases.
- Occupational therapy and physiotherapy for seniors recovering from surgery, injury, or stroke.
- Respite care for home caregivers.
- Seniors at Risk Integrated Health Network (SARIN), an opt-in program for patients of participating South Island physicians.
- Social work for health-related crisis intervention.
In the case of Vancouver Island Health, many services are provided for free to qualified residents, including case management, community nutrition, home care nursing, home health monitoring, palliative home care, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and social work. The cost for other services may vary by region and by program, and the rate you pay may be based in part on your yearly income.
Assisted living and long term care placements
When home care is no longer the safest choice, you may want to consider an assisted living or long-term care facility for your loved one. If you live in a major city in For help finding the right home for your loved one, please call us at (866) 592-8119. We have Elder Care Advisors located in all the major cities.
If you live in a smaller city, please contact your nearest Home and Community Care office or Home Health Office. For general questions and for help navigating the system, visit HealthLink BC or call 811 to speak with a health information specialist.