The catastrophic failures over the past 15 months in some of Canada’s long-term care facilities show that we can no longer afford to ignore the long-standing issues with long-term care and home care.
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, especially for services that older adults rely on. 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.
The National Association of Federal Retirees is calling on all levels of government to collaborate on a “seniors’ strategy” that includes national standards for long-term and home care, with provisions for adequate funding, inspections and enforcement. National standards developed in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments 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. It will also ensure greater public accountability for government decisions related to long-term and home care.
Most importantly, a national approach to long-term and home care can help move us closer to providing care that aligns with older adults’ wishes: to age with dignity and autonomy in our homes and communities, with appropriate care and support for us and our families. With more emphasis on supporting people as they manage their care at home, the result will be generally better health outcomes and quality of life.
We need to plan to ensure the right health care workers are in the right place at the right time, and we need to recognize and support the essential contribution of informal caregivers – the spouses and partners and children and neighbours – who, in fact, provide most of the day-to-day care.
Ian Spence, president
Fraser Valley West Branch
National Association of Federal Retirees