Canada’s Future of Long Term Care, a 2020 Recode.

Many highlights in 2019 with respect to my encounters in the field of aging and longevity. Attended a number of forums and webinars on subjects from supportive technologies to neuroplasticity and aging, and connected personally with a number of professionals with great future insights as well as with people who directly provide services in health and home care and other social services in their communities.

As this year closes, I want to reflect one more time on an initiative of great significance that stood out to me the most, as it should to all of us those living in Canada, as it will be an ongoing important conversation well into 2020 and into the decade ahead. That would be the first two National Institute on Ageing (NIA) reports in a series of three – Enabling the Future Provision of Long Term Care in Canada and The Future Cost of Long-Term Care in Canada

Sometime next year, the third and final report will be published, but not before you and I have a chance to contribute to a public NIA consultation process which closes on Jan.31st, 2020. The consultation format calls for our contribution of ideas in four components the NIA calls enablers.

  • Enabling evidence-informed integrated person-centred systems of long-term care, accounting for the expressed needs and desires of Canadians. One example of this is providing more supports, training, and respite for clients and caregivers.
  • Supporting system sustainability and stewardship through improved financial arrangements, a strong health care workforce, and enabling technologies. Two examples here include creating a public long-term care insurance program and implementing more technological solutions to improve the reach of long-term care providers.
  • Promoting further adoption of standardized assessments and common metrics to ensure the provision of consistent and high-quality care no matter where Canadians need it. This might mean boldly, adopting a national standardized long-term care assessment system.
  • Using policy to enable care by presenting governments with an evidence-informed path towards needed reforms. One exciting example option here is promoting Co-Housing and Shared Living Policies.

None of these four enablers for the future of long-term care arrived out of thin air. These were as the NIA reminds us, presented in the first report from September 2019. Here in this consultation feedback survey are many examples of opportunities to stimulate our thinking and none of this is beyond our ability to add voice to because so many of us have had some degree of experience on the continuum of care in our life course.

The NIA asks us to comment on which of their examples we should be focused on, and which ones (including some of our own new ideas), could realistically be accomplished in the short, medium, or longer term.

Off the top of my head, one tactic that should be raised, is how we mobilize all generations to participate, not only in the discussion of ideas but also in placing the subject more up front in the public agenda. How we effectively make it a priority on the next provincial and federal election agenda, while we remain mindful of what any changes to policy and systems might cost.

Last, but not least, clarity of message is important now more than ever, and considering that, I think we need to broaden or maybe loosen up our definition of long-term care. Is that even the right phrase? What is long-term? What does that even mean as we recode a longevity society? In many cases when you mention long-term care to someone caring for an older adult parent, you get the first leap answer in a box – “oh, yes my mother’s in a nursing home.” Is there a long-term or short-term limit there? And that box is only one place, one circumstance on the continuum of care.   

Contribute now to the NIA Future of Long-Term Care in Canada Consultation.

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