How Shapes Our Future for Long Term Care?

Of the many methods and service delivery models on the caregiving continuum for adults in the later years of a life course, the one that seems to have surfaced quite poignantly this year in Canada is Long Term Care. In my post this August 20 – Long Term Care & a Workforce Summit – I referenced the July 31, 2019 Ontario report – Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long Term Care Homes System.

“The Long Term Care System is Strained but not Broken” was the lead statement of one of the findings covered in the report. This report appeared two years after the trial of nurse, Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who pled guilty to and was convicted of eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault while she worked in Long Term Care facilities in southwestern Ontario.

As if to underscore the importance of the report, two events are happening this month. Next week, Sept. 17-19, the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA) in partnership with the Global Ageing Network are hosting a conference under the title This is Long Term Care 2019.

Today, Canada’s National Institute on Ageing (NIA) is releasing its inaugural report in a series – Enabling the Future Provision of Long Term Care in Canada. The NIA’s media release states that this part one in a series will “explore what the provision of long-term care currently looks like across Canada and place it within the global context of comparable countries also tackling significant demographic transitions as they redevelop their systems of care.”

While I take time to digest this report and discuss it with some colleagues in the field of aging and longevity, it is worth starting things here for now, with the NIA’s definition of Long Term Care:

“A range of preventive and responsive care and supports, primarily for older adults, that may include assistance with Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living provided by not-for-profit or for-profit providers, or unpaid caregivers in settings that are not location specific and this include designated buildings, or in home and community-based settings.”

Whatever the case, wherever and however Long Term Care is experienced, we all have a stake in it – we just cannot accept a “strained but not broken” system. Understanding it is one thing. Innovating and improving it is another. How we shape our future for Long Term Care and its system components depends on how we think it through – what we are designing for now and whatever a near future is, we will still need to go through many adaptations for future generations beyond.

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