This year the COVID-19 pandemic has shown we can no longer afford to ignore the long-standing issues with long-term care and home care. More than 80 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in Canada occurred in long-term care facilities, the highest proportion – by a long shot – among the 14 developed countries that track this data.
Reports from the Canadian Armed Forces detailed the tragic conditions in our long-term care homes, conditions that were made worse by COVID-19, but that sounded all too familiar to those with experience with long-term care.
Add to this the fact that Canadians are living longer and more of us are dealing with chronic conditions and diseases, especially as we age. By the end of this decade, those aged 65 and older will make up almost a quarter of the population. The demand on the health-care system is only going to increase.
Our health-care system has not kept pace with Canada’s aging population, and if we do not make changes soon, we will not be equipped to meet the health needs of Canadians. It is time we include older-adult care in our national health framework and start managing, funding and regulating long-term and home care in the same way as other parts of our system: with national standards tied to funding.
National standards will guarantee a standard level of quality care, the availability of equitable and consistent services across the country, and adequate levels of funding for these types of care.
As we look to the new year, all levels of government must resolve to work together to fix long-term and home care and ensure older adults can access the care they need now and in the future.
Ian Spence, White Rock