It’s no surprise that Canada has an aging population, but it is surprising how unprepared our health system is for it. Where you live in Canada and your access to funds greatly determine what type of care you and your loved ones can receive. Wait times for long-term care differ dramatically as do homecare services and access to palliative or hospice care. Eligibility criteria and out-of-pocket expenses borne by residents all fluctuate.
The Federal government is responsible for ensuring all people in Canada have access to public health care. Unfortunately seniors care often falls outside of public health care which only covers “medically necessary services” (hospital and physician services). Therefore much of seniors care has been privatized and differs dramatically from one province/territory to another. It is clear that not everyone is getting the care they need. People across the country need access to the continuum of care so they may age with dignity.
The CHC is calling for:
- A national strategy for aging, national standards for seniors care, and the attachment of federal funding to benchmarks in seniors care. This would encourage provinces and territories to implement new strategies to improve access to public continuing care.
- Staffing ratios and other safety measures need to be set by the federal government.
- Best practices across the provinces and territories should be examined and shared.
- Stories are a powerful tool to ensure that we do not take our public health care system for granted. Take part in our on-line story booth by sharing with us your experience with seniors care.
- Sign up to stay involved on the most recent developments on this issue.
The issue in detail
A report completed in 2012 found “461,000 Canadians were not getting the home care they thought they required; wait times for access to a long-term care facility in Canada ranged anywhere from 27 to more than 230 days; and as few as 16% of Canadians requiring palliative care actually received it”.
As Canadians live longer and generally healthier lives, the demographic requiring long-term care has more complex care needs than ever before. Staffing ratios and government funding needs to reflect the changing needs of residents. But most provinces have cut long-term care bed capacity relative to the senior population without sufficiently increasing home care or staffing ratios.
- Building a continuum of care: The time is now (Canadian Health Coalition, 2010)