Newsletter – August 2011
August 2011 Newsletter for Seniors on Vancouver Island
Given the opportunity all of us would prefer to stay in our own home to the end of our days, or certainly as long as is possible. Those that work in Home Care know that that is not only the preferred choice but is also the most humane and practical solution for many seniors. It would also be a better option for the Province as health care consumes an ever greater percentage of our Provincial revenue.
I recently came across a report, An Evidence-Based Policy Prescription for an Aging Population, which studied in depth the role of Home Care within an integrated Health Care system for Seniors. It should be required reading for everyone, especially politicians and health care policy makers. Neena L. Chappell, PhD, FRSC, one of the report’s authors, has written the following article for Seniors 101 as an introduction to the report. The link at the end of her article will open the report itself.
In An Evidence-Based Policy Prescription for an Aging Population, authors Chappell and Hollander bring together their collective wisdom from over 3 decades each, of conducting research in the area of optimal aging. Chappell is a renown academic researcher, (a Canadian Research chair in social gerontology at the University of Victoria and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada); Hollander brings both real-world experience (he has been Executive Director of continuing care in B.C. and Director of health research at the Canadian Policy Research Network) and extensive research experience. This paper draws on their own experiences and investigative efforts as well as over 30 years of gerontological and health services research in the area. They argue that much is known about appropriate and effective care for an aging society and how to provide that care at affordable costs.
In this paper, they begin by setting the context; they examine the impacts of an aging population on future healthcare costs, concluding that alarmist views positing that the aging of Canada’s baby boomers will bankrupt our healthcare system, are not necessarily true. While it is easy to assume that significantly more older adults will escalate costs dramatically, in fact, the increase in the numbers of older adults per se will account for modest demands on the system (many estimates put the increase at 1% per year). However, other factors could lead to dramatic cost increases if not curtailed (such as the increasing use of pharmaceuticals and expensive medical technology). One of the keys to ensuring the needs of an aging society are met while simultaneously moving the health care system in a more sustainable direction, is the provision of continuing care, including long-term care in the community, as an integrated health care system. The paper also draws attention to the importance of eradicating ageism, building healthy communities, promoting health and preventing disease, and supporting family caregivers – the dominant care system for providing care when our health fails.
While long-term home care is a central feature of an adequate continuing care system, in order to be cost-effective, it requires that it be part of an overall system wherein cost-substitutions can be implemented, both older adults and their caregivers are supported, a common assessment for different services is used, needs rather than eligibility are assessed in the first instance, attention is paid to health promotion and disease prevention, etc. Such a system of continuing care has existed in the past (for example in B.C.) and does exist in other countries at the present time (such as Denmark and Japan). The paper ends with a policy prescription to help combat ageism, build healthy communities, prevent declines in health to the extent possible, support unpaid caregivers, and create integrated systems of care. In doing so, it advocates for a leadership role by the federal government.
The journal contains commentaries on the papers by 11 leaders in gerontology and health care systems from diverse perspectives and a response to the commentaries from the authors. Both the original article and the response of the authors are available free of charge.
Neena L. Chappell, PhD, FRSC
Canada Research Chair in Social Gerontology
Professor, Centre on Aging & Dept. of Sociology
President, Canadian Association on Gerontology
University of Victoria
PO Box 1700 STN CSC
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
To read the full report click the following link: