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Fix seniors’ care

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Fix seniors' care

Older Canadians deserve to live safely and with dignity, whether they’re aging in place at home or are living in long-term care. The devastating loss of life during the COVID-19 pandemic paints a stark picture of how far we have to go in providing the quality of care aging adults deserve. 

The time for transformation of seniors’ care is now. This means a serious reexamination into how our long-term care systems are serving our seniors, and upgrading the standards of care and living conditions that residents receive. This means reexamining the value we put in our caregivers, including both those who work in the seniors’ care sectors and those who are family members and friends. This means increasing the supports for seniors who choose to stay at home, as the vast majority of older Canadians will never live in congregate care settings.

The problem

For decades before the pandemic, many voices raised concern for the lack of funding and staffing in long-term care, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.  Staff have worked overtime to care for residents, but staffing shortages meant that meeting care requirements was sometimes impossible. Care workers were given the short end of the stick, with employers providing low wages and hiring part-time to dodge providing benefits. The implications of the sector’s neglect during the pandemic were tragic and demand change.

Caregivers are not only under-supported in institutions, but the unpaid contributions of family caregivers go under-appreciated as well. As our population ages and the ratio of caregivers to dependents gets closer to the breaking point, Canada must take action to enable caregivers to succeed. We will also need more infrastructure for congregate care, and old, outdated buildings need to be retrofitted. 

Elder abuse and neglect have dramatically increased during the pandemic – by some estimations an increase of 250% in the past year.   Financial constraints, isolation and being required to stay home with one’s abuser have significantly made older adults more vulnerable; we must improve our awareness, research and interventions to help and respond.

Our solution

We’re asking all federal parties to commit to creating a new Seniors’ Care Transfer, which would provide dedicated funds to improve long-term care and home care supports, including real steps taken to prevent elder abuse.

  1. Creating and Funding National Standards for Long-Term Care matters 
    Funding needs to be tied to new national standards and outcomes, otherwise provinces and territories can receive funding without an obligation to improve care. Models of care also need to be revisited in order to prioritize the rights and dignity of residents, and Residents’ and Family Councils should be required and enabled to ensure those priorities are maintained. 

  2. Home Care matters
    It is the most desired, effective and affordable solution to the care needs of seniors.  We know this.  But Home Care is constantly neglected and underfunded.  A Seniors’ Care Transfer will include desperately needed funds to fix our broken Home Care system across Canada.

  3. Staying in your own home matters
    Housing innovations and affordability need to be addressed in order to provide seniors with options for aging at home. This can include increasing the Home Renovation Tax Credit and implementing age-friendly bi-laws such as increased opportunity for in-law suites, laneway housing, intergenerational cohousing options and building codes. 

  4. Seniors’ safety matters
    Pre-pandemic, 1 in 6 seniors experienced elder abuse and neglect in Canada.  Since 2020 that number has skyrocketed. Elder abuse and neglect needs to be destigmatized through investment in awareness campaigns.  Funds need to be dedicated to actually helping the organizations on the ground who are supporting seniors. Financial institutions should also be empowered and supported to report suspected elder abuse. This can’t be just a one-off: Canada needs a Seniors’ Advocate.  We need this independent body to ensure that Canada is moving in the right direction and protecting the rights of seniors.

Our Members have spoken

We surveyed our members to get their opinions on this issue. Here’s what they had to say.

Related

282 Wright Avenue,
Toronto, ON, M6R 1L5

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto

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