We need respite care facilities across the province

It's time for the grey wave to rise up

Let me say first that our healthcare system is quite good, especially compared to a lot of other countries.

A good example being our friends to our south. Any time I have done something stupid and wound up with a broken bone or two, I have been patched up and sent home with no medical bills to pay. I can go to the doctor anytime I want with the same result. No bill to pay.

Unfortunately, I have managed to stumble into a situation that will cost me a fortune. I was told recently that I need a liver transplant. I thought well that’s tough but at least the healthcare system will look after me. Well, as it turns out, that is not the case at all.

They will look out for me up to a point. The operation itself will be looked after, but after that I’m on my own. The transplant team said after the operation I will have to take a lot of drugs. Some are covered some are not. The worst of it is they need me to stay in Vancouver for 3 to 5 months with 24/7 supervision. The medical system pays not a dime for that.

I will be on the hook for an apartment in Vancouver, and hiring and paying for a caregiver to look after me. I wonder how many people can afford this? First of all, if you are of working age, you will have no income right at the time you need it most. You will have to pay your mortgage in whatever town you come from, plus rent in Vancouver, plus pay for a caregiver, plus all the normal expenses that we all pay.

From what I have seen so far, a decent apartment in Vancouver will set you back about $2,500, but good luck finding one. You would have to sign a lease for a year and pay first and last months rent.

What if you can’t find an apartment, which is a very real concern? You could stay at a fleabag hotel for about the same price, but you need to have a caregiver to move in with you and who would spend their work day in a dump of a hotel? I tried the few private hospitals with no luck, and was told the waiting lists are as long as your arm, and they receive about 10 phone calls a day from people in this situation. Even if you could get what you need, it would cost about 10,000 bucks a month and that is before you pay your bills back home.

So what is the answer? If you live in Vancouver you are lucky. If you don’t you are in trouble. We need respite care facilities. Our new hospital is great but already has beds lined up in the hallways with people waiting to get into facilities that don’t exist.

We need places where we can go to recover from an operation, or wait comfortably to get into a retirement home. They don’t have to be fully equipped hospitals, just a place for people to stay who are not well enough to stay at home. They need to be placed across the province as well, not just in Vancouver.

With the baby boomers getting older every day this situation could get a lot worse before it gets better. It’s time for the grey wave to rise up and start pounding on our government’s door.

James Anderson

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