In 2009 and 2012, the BC Ombudsperson issued two reports, The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia (Parts 1 and 2), the Ombudsperson’s systemic investigation into the care of seniors in B.C. The first report included ten recommendations made to the then Ministry of Health Services and Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport in the following areas: rights for seniors in residential care; access to information about residential care; and the role of resident and family councils.
In the Ombudsperson's report, it was noted that Family Councils can play a key roles in promoting improved communication and collaboration between family members and facility staff, and management. Family Councils can also identify common systemic problems before they become crisis. In the Ombudsperson's report, the recommendation was that the Ministry of Health Services and the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport support the establishment and development of regional family council organizations.
In December 2009 a Residents’ Bill of Rights was added to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and Residential Care Regulations, as well as the Hospital Act for residents in private hospital and extended care facilities, which included Resident's rights: "c) to have his or her family or representative participate on a resident or family council on their own behalf."
In 2010, the first Regional Association of Family Councils (Vancouver Island-VIAFC) was formed, who began advocating to the Ministry of Health to implement the recommendations of the Ombudsperson's report, with their Proposal for Change. A key point in the Proposal for Change document was that despite the Ombudsperson's recommendations, and the Resident's Bill of Rights statement, some LTC facility management continued to discourage (with some even refusing to allow for) the organization of Family Councils.
The Home and Community Care Manual (2019) https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health-safety/home-community-care/accountability/hcc-policy-manual/6_hcc_policy_manual_chapter_6.pdf
adopted some of the recommendations of the Ombudsperson's report, including: "H) Health Authorities shall encourage opportunities for resident/family councils to participate in regional education and networking opportunities".
Between 2014 and 2021, Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils had supported and mentored emerging Family Councils in other regions who had needed assistance establishing Family Councils, and who still were often encountering push-back from facilities.
In 2021, advocates for Family Councils across BC, led by Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils, began the work of establish individual regional Associations of Family Councils in all Health Authorities in BC.
On November 3, 2022 the Provincial Government announced enhancements to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, Residential Care Regulation, enhancing supports for Family Council, and new Regional Resident and Family Council networks. The Interior Association of Family Councils' mandate is to ensure Family Councils have an independent forum in which to discuss their ideas and recommendations, and collectively participate in Health Authority Resident and Family networks, with this collaboration of Family Councils and Health Authorities leading to improving the care and quality of life of all Residents in long-term care.
Interior Association of Family Councils will continue to network with other regional associations of Family Council across BC, under the umbrella Independent Long-Term Care Councils Association of BC, to make recommendations to the appropriate authorities (i.e. Health Authority, Ministry of Health) about regulations and policies that will lead to improving the care and quality of life of all Residents in long term care in B.C.
Interior Association of Family Councils
Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada
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