More money coming for BC seniors and caregivers during pandemic

Apr 26 2020, 2:03 pm

BC’s provincial government is setting aside more money for seniors and their caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie announced Sunday.

For the next three months, low-income seniors receiving the Senior’s Supplement will get an extra $300 per month. Seniors with incomes less than $19,000 per year typically qualify for this supplement.

The province is also sending $1 million to Family Care Givers of British Columbia. Some of that money will be used to beef up the non-profit’s helpline for caregivers that can be accessed by calling 211 or 1-877-520-3267.

Many normal respite services that give family caregivers breaks are suspended because of the pandemic, Mackenzie said.

“Family caregiving can be intense for many people,” she said. “It is stressful in the best of times. And I think we can all agree we’re not in the best of times.”

Normally, seniors or other dependents would be able to temporarily stay in a long-term care home, or paid caregivers would come into the home so family members could have time for themselves. But those temporary respite programs have now been cancelled, and many families are cancelling staff who come in to limit the number of people in the home, Mackenzie said.

She hopes sharing the burden over the helpline can make it easier. Staff on the other end can also connect caregivers with volunteers who have expressed interest in helping seniors.

The volunteers can run errands such as picking up groceries and medications, or they can schedule a virtual call to check in with a senior.

Mackenzie said more than 21,000 volunteer interactions have been coordinated in the month since the volunteer platform launched.