BCEHS Changes To Service – Teleforum Summary

February 24, 2017 | News

What is Changing?

Effective March 1st 2017, the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) will no longer respond to requests from licensed long term care facilities for lift assist support where no emergency medical care is required. This does not apply to Assisted Living Facilities.


SafeCare BC hosted a teleforum on February 24th regarding the changes to the BCEHS recent changes to service. The purpose of the discussion was to clarify BCEHS’ position on lift assist calls, how this change will be rolled out, how the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations tie-in with the issue of resident transfers, what solutions may be available for certain transfer scenarios, and to provide participants with the opportunity to ask questions.

We have developed a short survey to assess the sector’s readiness for this change, please take a couple of minutes to complete the survey here.


  1. Q. Will the BCEHS still respond to calls made by care homes?
  2. Yes, the BCEHS is not withdrawing support to care homes. The BCEHS has not withdrawn support for patients needing emergency medical care and transport to the hospital from care homes.


  1. Will there be a transition period for this change? (i.e. If a long-term care home requires assistance on March 2nd, will services not be provided?)
  2. There will be no transition period, the changes will come into effect on March 1st 2017.


  1. What happens if a resident’s condition results in a medical emergency resulting from them being manually transferred by one of our care staff?
  2. In any situation that a person requires emergency medical care, the BCEHS will respond.


  1. What if a family member calls 911 because one of their family members has fallen outside and requires assistance?
  2. BCEHS would respond to all calls from the public; the paramedics would arrive on scene and assist and then notify dispatch that a lift was required. The BCEHS would then follow up directly with the care home.


  1. Why is the BCEHS still supporting assisted living sites for lift assists but not residential care sites?
  2. The admission requirements for Assisted Living are different from those for Residential Care, BCEHS is still providing support to Assisted Living because they aren’t required to have lift equipment onsite for their clients. However, all care homes should have lift equipment for their residents, because they admit people who can’t ambulate or transfer independently.


  1. What if the care home calls dispatch and insists on having the ambulance services arrive on site?
  2. The caller will be transferred to a BCEHS Manager who will then explain the change in policy.


  1. What if the caller does not indicate that a lift assist is required when they call for an ambulance?
  2. Ambulance services will arrive on site and assist with the lift. Paramedics will inform dispatch that a lift assist took place, and the BCEHS will follow up directly with the care home.


  1. What if the care home does not have appropriate equipment that can be used outside to assist with the lift?
  2. The paramedics will arrive on scene to assist and then follow up directly with the care home to ensure the needs of the patients are being appropriately met.


  1. Is there someone at the BCEHS that I can talk to directly about these changes?
  2. Yes, you can contact Emily Hamilton, Stakeholder Engagement Lead at 604-660-1122 or emily.hamilton@bches.ca


  1. What does this change mean from a WorkSafe BC perspective?
  2. Regulatory requirements indicate that the employer is responsible for assessing and controlling any hazards that may be presented to their workers. As lift assists are part of the regular job routine of a care worker, the employer must ensure that the risk is controlled and measures are implemented to eliminate or minimize the hazard.


  1. What happens if one of our employees is injured from manually transferring a resident who has fallen outside? Can we transfer the cost of the claim to the BCEHS?
  2. The employer would take on the burden of the claim; the claim will not be transferred to BCEHS.


  1. Will employers be cited for manually transferring residents who require assistance when outside?
  2. The requirements for the regulation have not changed, therefore if there is evidence to show that the workers are manually handling residents, it is possible that orders will be issued.


  1. How will WorkSafe BC be evaluating the impact of this change on worker injuries on long-term care sector?
  2. Worksafe BC will not be looking at this specifically, rather they will continue to look at injuries from a high level on an annual basis


  1. What recommendations can be provided for care homes to safely transfer residents who require assistance when outside the care home?
  2. As we know the risk of injury when transferring patients is high, and the evidence shows that mechanical equipment can eliminate or minimize this risk.


  1. What equipment is available that can be used outside the care home to help transfer residents?
  2. There are three main types of equipment that can be used outside.

It is also necessary to ensure that you have the correct type of sling to go with your equipment. This guide provides more information on the various types of slings.

More information on some of the types of lifting equipment can be found here, however, it is recommended that each organization ensures that they find the best equipment which is suitable for their employees and work environment.


  1. How can I ensure that my employees use this equipment safely?
  2. As with all equipment, it is important to ensure that the employees have reviewed the manufacturers information. There are also training videos available to support these needs which can be found at the websites linked above. The equipment dealer may also have lift-specific training support.


  1. Will our warranty on equipment remain if we use floor-based lifts outside?
  2. You will need to verify that the equipment specifications indicate that the equipment can be used outside by checking with the dealership that you purchased the equipment at, or with the manufacturer. All equipment must be stored inside when not in use.
  1. Where can I get more information on lift assist equipment that can be used outside?
  2. You can contact either of our panelists from the Home Medical Equipment (HME) Dealers Association for more information on the equipment: