Engaging and Transforming the Entire Health Care Workforce

Many are concerned that there is a shortage of expertise in the care of older adults among physicians, and miss the fact that improving care for older adults will require engaging and transforming the entire health care workforce. An article published in the Healthy Debate this week points out this need to have all health care workers change the way they approach and provide care in order to meet the needs of Canada’s older adults. Currently one of the biggest barriers to a lack of geriatric content in health and social training programs is negative attitudes towards seniors’ health. However, the good news is that change is underway.

The article gives a few examples of this change. Community paramedics in Renfrew County in partnership with the community’s long-term care facility are now providing a broader range of services, such as periodic health assessments, medication dispensation, vital sign monitoring, client education, home safety assessment, and routine blood work collection. As a result, seniors and their caregivers are able to have better quality of life while also reducing the usage of emergency medical services and hospitalizations. Another example given is the shift in the model of care personal support workers (PSWs) are providing. Instead of the traditional custodial model of care that is task oriented and results in tasks being performed for dependent clients, PSWs are now using a restorative model of care that help individuals to maximize their ability to do everyday activities independently. Restorative care helps maximize the individual’s function and comfort without creating further dependence, which has been seen with custodial care. The article continues to discuss the importance of interdisciplinary collaborative models of care that will reduce the health care fragmentation and duplication. With more and more older adults with various chronic conditions and complexities, interdisciplinary learning and care becomes crucial.

It is clear that transformation is not only needed but it also can take place. CARP is calling on government to take action on transforming our health systems into an integrated care continuum that takes into the consideration the full spectrum of people’s needs from first diagnosis to the end of life. Read CARP’s One Patient paper. Read Health Debate’s full article.