Canadians Want a Comprehensive Strategy for Senior’s Care, CMA National Report Card Reveals

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released the results of a survey of Canadian’s opinions on the health care system in their 13th Annual National Report Card on Health Card. This year’s report looked more closely at the future of seniors’ health care, revealing considerable support among Canadians for a comprehensive strategy for seniors’ care. The results of the survey are not a surprise to CARP members. CARP members have been long calling for comprehensive improvements to the system, inclusive of more home-care, community services, better supports for caregivers, and better access to long-term care as solutions to the health needs of current and future seniors.

Low confidence in the current system’s ability to serve seniors

The report card shows that a majority of Canadians do not feel confident in the current health care system’s ability to meet the aging population’s needs. According to the results, only four out of ten people believe that hospitals and LTC facilities can handle the needs of seniors who will not be able to stay at home, yet six out of ten say that they will need to rely on a public system of home care and long term care if they need it later in life.

Home and Community Care are seen as priorities to Canadians.

Results also reveal that when faced with a choice of home and community care, hospital and long-term care, and end-of-life-care, Canadians think home and community care should take priority. The report emphasize that a national senior’s health care plan would need to place greater importance on home- and community-based care.

Federal leadership needed in a national strategy

Seniors’ healthcare needs are a growing concern amongst Canadians, and most (93%) believe that Canada needs a pan-Canadian strategy for seniors health care at home, hospitals, hospices and long-term facilities. The CMA report reveal that Canadians believe that all levels of government need to work together, and despite health care being mainly the responsibility of provincial and municipality governments, almost 80% think that the federal government has an important role to play. According to the CMA report, a true comprehensive approach and strategy requires all governments need to on board, including the federal government.

Beyond a national strategy, people want action

The CMA report reveals what CARP has been calling for all along. CARP members have long expressed the need for governments to address the needs of the aging population. Not only is hospital and institutional care unaffordable, but they are not the best means of care for most people. Most Canadians want to stay at home and in their communities for as long as possible and as a result, prefer to receive homecare. However, many Canadians are still not able to access home care in a timely manner, or at all.  The demand for more home care is growing, and it was one of the issues discussed by the Council of Federal this past July. However, no commitments or actions were made beyond the discussions.

People want to see that the health care system will provide for them as they face various health needs as they age. Some will require home care with the assistance of a caregiver, while others will need full supervision and support in a long-term care facility, and others will need a bit of both some time in their lives. CARP has been calling for a comprehensive health care model that meets all kinds of needs as one goes through the system from acute care, long term care, home care, to end-of-life care. This model would require coordination and communication across all health professions and governments so that services are integrated and easy to navigate. However, governments have been slow to move on these recommendations and Canadians are beginning to lose patience. Beyond a national strategy, governments along with health care professionals need work together to make changes.

Read CARP’s One Patient Paper.

Read the full CMA National Report Card.