The next discussion we need to have: Caring for seniors

André Picard: You’re right, we have to shift our focus from “caring for” people to “caring about” people. Healthcare delivery is just one part of the equation. The single most important factor in being healthy is having a decent income. So if we want to have a healthy population it requires a broad range of public policies, including protecting pension plans, a decent minimum wage, and support for seniors.

Natalie Stechyson: We have time for one more question

Comment From Ken Collier: Perhaps the panelists could comment on other aspects of senior care – differences between Long Term Care for the almost completely disabled versus assisted living for those who are ambulatory and somewhat able; what the standards of care are, and who is qualified to assess adherence to those standards; what those levels of care actually cost (Andre Picard’s comment above tells part of it); whether humane Long Term Care at home is trumped by efficiency of instititional care; models of senior care that seem to work better than others.

André Picard: The short answer to your complex question is that it really varies by jurisdiction. In some parts of Canada, there are consistent standards for placement in care and, in others, it’s hit-and-miss. In nursing home care, in particular, it’s the Wild West in many ways. The public is not being well served by the lack of oversight and standards.

Susan Eng – CARP: There has been smaller scale research that compares costs and health outcomes which always puts home care ahead of institutional care for most people. Some people cannot be cared for at home and need more intervention. But most can manage at home. They key is having this properly thought through and implemented – and now is a good time to start.

Natalie Stechyson: We have to wrap up. André and Susan, do you have any final thoughts?

André Picard: I would like to make a closing comment on a much more positive note — unusual for a journalist, I know! When we talk about aging at home, there are a lot of fears expressed about the financial costs, the time demands, etc. But anyone who has cared for a loved one at home knows it can also be a wonderfully intimate, life-affirming experience. What we need to do is ensure people have the support so that caring is not pure drudgery, but an act of love and caring. It’s what all our parents deserve.

Susan Eng – CARP: I agree – It seems that the public is way ahead of the politicians. It’s time for them to catch up

Natalie Stechyson: Thanks to both our guests for joining us today on That’s all the time we have. Thanks to everyone for contributing their comments and questions.

© The Globe and Mail

Keywords: healthcare, seniors, caregivers, costs, homecare