Transportation, home care services and rental affordability for seniors are concerns province-wide, said Isobel Mackenzie, B.C. Seniors’ Advocate. (Black Press file)

B.C. seniors use antipsychotics more than any other province

One out of four residents is receiving antipsychotics without a supporting diagnosis

A new report released by the Office of the Seniors Advocate shows B.C. seniors use antipsychotics at a higher rate than the national average.

“These data, released annually by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) are invaluable in telling us about the health of the frail elderly in B.C. who receive home care and live in long-term care facilities” stated Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

Among the data released is the use of antipsychotic medication without a supporting diagnosis for seniors living in long-term care facilities. The numbers show that B.C. has a rate 19.3 per cent higher than the national average and efforts in recent years to reduce the number have stalled, with no reduction in the last year. In total, one out of four residents is receiving antipsychotics without a supporting diagnosis.

READ ALSO: Still too many B.C. seniors in care facilities, on drugs

“Unfortunately the data show that in B.C., for whatever reason, we are not able to make the gains that other provinces have in reducing the inappropriate use of antipsychotics. This is troubling particularly when we look at other data that show our long-term care populations have lower rates of psychiatric and mood disorders and aggressive behaviours than other provinces and while we have a slightly higher rate of dementia, (3.9 per cent higher) we have a lower rate of residents with moderate to severe dementia, (3.8 per cent lower),” stated Mackenzie.

The data also highlights that B.C. has the oldest and frailest homecare population in Canada with the second highest rate of caregiver distress in the country.

“We can understand the high rate of caregiver distress in B.C. when we look at the population these family members are caring for. B.C. has the oldest and most frail home support population in the country. Some positive news is that this year showed a drop in caregiver distress from last year, but there is still an overall increase over the past five years. We hope the data from this year signals a trend and that may be possible given recent government commitments to increase supports to caregivers,” stated Mackenzie.

Seniors at Home and in Long-Term Care, a 2017/2018 Snapshot studies data released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) on the health status for 32,000 people receiving home support services and 34,000 people living in a subsidized residential care facility.

“We see residents in B.C. long-term care homes appear to have less acute needs than the national average, however the trends are indicating this is changing.” said Mackenzie. “We want to ensure we are providing support as those needs increase, and understanding the unique challenges faced by our province when it comes to caring for a frail, elderly population.”

The full report can be viewed at

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