The provincial government said it will increase funding to its At Home program, which provides medical equipment to about 4,600 B.C. children and youth with highly complex care needs.
The program provides a range of basic, medically necessary equipment and supplies to support and assist children and youth to live at home. Beginning in April 2022, families will be eligible to receive more financial support to buy specialized equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers and beds, according to a release from the provincial government.
“For too long, families with children and youth with support needs have had to make difficult choices as the At Home program has not kept pace with rising equipment costs,” said Mitzi Dean, minister of children and family development. “This is the first significant funding increase to At Home program medical equipment benefits in over 20 years and it will help save families thousands of dollars on the equipment their children need.”
Under the current benefit allowance, walkers, standing frames and other equipment that help with hip development and bone strength are funded to a maximum of $3,200 total, while the market cost for a standing frame alone can range from $5,700 to $6,000. The new investment will help significantly lower the costs of medical equipment for children and youth in B.C., the province said.
“It’s not easy for families who have a child with special needs to be able to afford the specialized equipment they require. We have parents who are choosing between buying groceries and paying for a piece of essential equipment,” said Cally Wesson, CEO of Variety – the Children’s Charity. “This announcement means that children are going to get what they need to thrive while parents can focus on their kids, instead of having to worry about the financial burden of costly equipment.”
The At Home program provides medical equipment including:
-alternate positioning devices, such as standing frames;
-bathing and toileting aids;
-hospital beds and mattresses;
-orthotics and splints;
-dental/orthodontic and optical benefits;
-mobility equipment, such as wheelchairs;
-specialized car seats; and
-therapeutic equipment, such floor therapy mats.
In 2019, over 39 per cent of families accessing the program reported paying at least $5,000 a year out of pocket, with some paying more than $10,000, according to the province.