Why it is exactly that in Canada we lump together healthcare and homecare as though they were one in the same – as though the very real needs of our elderly and their uncompensated caregivers can wait under the umbrella of “healthcare first?” Homecare and Healthcare are distinct and the government should take a closer look at the real needs of aging Canadians, their caregivers and the lack of attentive support given to our aging populace.
The most typical situation for seniors is to suffer from a chronic health problem, making it difficult for them to look after themselves at home, but without actually requiring a lot of medical attention. Help is needed with all of the little things that become difficult for all of us as we age and lose our valued independence.
Personal care help, reminders to take medication, friendly conversation, meal preparation and tidying up the home are the day to day activities needed to keep seniors independent and well. Instead, the limited amount of funds set aside for homecare is spent on programs like Ontario’s Aging at Home strategy, now a $1.1-billion program directed at helping those fortunate to live in the vicinity of one of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN’s), which are responsible for distributing funds mostly for those in hospitals get at-home medical attention during recovery. This is important, no doubt, but leaves little for the actual daily needs of millions of Canadians despite 20% of it being “earmarked for innovative projects.”
A first step would be for the government to separate homecare from healthcare and budget accordingly. Homecare, which is really a social service, simply can’t compete with the ever increasing costs of hospitals and healthcare providers. It is overshadowed and pushed aside as though the pending emergency of homecare doesn’t loom on the horizon for us all. If homecare were separated from healthcare, Canadians could see for themselves where money was being spent.
Programs are needed to adequately support family caregivers who tirelessly and thanklessly save the government billions of dollars shouldering the burden by caring for their own family. Canadians want respite for family caregivers and a better calculation of ‘need’ for public homecare dollars so they can breathe a little easier.
In addition, a bridging network of community-based supports that assist seniors living at home is needed, one that cooperates with private homecare services providers like Premier Homecare Services, and integrates all existing not-for-profit initiatives and public organizations. Quite an undertaking, no doubt, but if our government is not willing to prepare for the very real fact that boomers are aging and change is needed – who will?
RELATED POSTS & RESOURCES:
Supporting Caregivers and Caregiving in an Aging Canada – IRPP Study (Nov. 2011)
Family Caregivers Need Respite from Holidays – Premier Homecare Services Blog
Tips on Managing Long Distance Caregiving – Premier Homecare Services Blog