Are we generations apart from caring enough? That is one of the big questions I was left hanging with after attending only the first day of the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) November conference – Re-think Ageing. For some time my point has been, that if we are going to truly accomplish a national caring agenda, as the NIA has started to do by connecting their messages to the four pillars of Canada’s National Seniors Strategy, then it must become an inter-generational conversation.
If there is one topic that directly binds all generations together on a daily basis in this re-think ageing process it is that of caregiving. Of course, caregiving applies to everyone broadly on the age continuum, from children to elders. Caregiver is the one role that we all will have some touch point with in our life cycle. Which is why in retrospect, I wish I could have attended day two of the NIA conference.
The whole program that day covered home care, end-of-life care, technologies to enable caregiving and support for caregivers. One of the panelists I would have liked to listen to was Dr. Gail Donner on the panel, Care Closer to Home. I remember Donner in another context when I was an Association President for Career Professionals back in the late 90’s, when she and her business partner Mary Wheeler presented a career development program unique to the nursing profession. Donner& Wheeler are still doing work in career planning for the health care profession.
Two years ago this coming January, Gail Donner chaired a special project with a summary report to the Ontario government, titled Bringing Care Home. Given the current media attention on the federal and provincial discussions on health care transfer payments, which includes how much money would be targeted to mental health and home care, this report still seems timely. Keep in mind that health care spending is a provincial jurisdiction, and the federal offer of money for these two items is outside the transfer formula.
So if an extra $8 Billion over ten years were to go through, (and from today’s news update, it appears it will not), it would still serve us well to turn to this Bringing Care Home document, which I intend to do further in another post. Even if you have had a double degree of direct experience with the home health care process as I and others I know have had over the last ten years; there is still much that is misunderstood or changing year over year, thus making it hard to keep up with it all.
Bringing Care Home with a “basket of services”
Continuing education on the health & home care system, the options and costs – assessing our own abilities and understanding our responsibilities has fast become a necessary part of life in the re-think ageing world. I have the good fortune of having friends and colleagues who work professionally in this knowledge area; but what if you don’t?
Understanding the federal/provincial funding model is one thing, but when it’s a family crisis, (which it often is), with for example an elder parent, when suddenly a search for a care solution hits you, it is not likely that the status of federal transfer payments first comes to mind. The Bringing Care Home 2015 report has sixteen recommendations that are well articulated, and in one neat phrase, it calls for a clear understanding of the “basket of services” we all need to know.
More people now and into the next decade are going to need that clarity. And going back to my comment that caregiving is truly one of the binding inter-generational experiences; it would make sense to me that the content of day two from the 2016 Re-think Ageing conference should be developed as part of core curriculum in our high schools.
But for now, I’d be happy when the National Institute on Ageing will embed summary notes of this content into searchable content on their web site.