Caregivers in Distress Report

The Office of the Seniors Advocate has released its new report "Caregivers in Distress: More Respite Needed".  This is a very teliing and eye-opening report on the state of the caregiving of seniors in BC.

Caregivers in Distress Cover Page

The Introduction section of the Report is reproduced below, to read or download the full report please click here.

Caregivers in Distress: More Respite Needed
Office of the Seniors Advocate
September 2015


There are over 30,000 seniors in British Columbia for whom the ability to live as independently as possible is enhanced by the contributions of an unpaid caregiver. Without the support of these unpaid caregivers, who can be spouses, or other family members, neighbours, friends or volunteers, the responsibility and concomitant cost for the services they provide would fall to governments at the local, provincial and federal level. A 2009 economic study estimated that on a national level, the value of unpaid caregiver labour is $25 to $65 billion per year.1 B.C.'s share of this could reasonably be estimated at $4.1 billion in 2015 allowing for population growth and inflation.

In addition to the labour costs of the actual caregiving, those who are supported at home by an unpaid caregiver are less likely to be referred to residential care. ninety-seven per cent of seniors assessed as eligible for provincially subsidized home support report an unpaid caregiver assisting them in some aspect of care or support. Fifty-three per cent of these seniors are as complex as those living in residential care, although they remain living at home. These highly complex seniors are receiving, on average, 24 hours of care per week from an unpaid caregiver.

There is evidence that supporting the caregivers who are caring for these seniors is a significant predictor of whether the senior they are caring for will ultimately be placed in residential care. This latter hypothesis is supported by the findings of 10 randomized controlled trials that indicate a 40% reduction in the odds of placement in residential care when caregivers and clients are offered structured, intensive and multicomponent choices of services and supports.

Support for caregivers can come in many forms. Some caregivers find relief when they can participate in support groups to share their experiences with fellow caregivers, others need help navigating the system, while some require relief from the financial burden and impact on their work life. Some caregivers require a variety of these supports to successfully cope. Almost all, however, require periods of respite from the person for whom they are providing the care.

[Read the full report]