Don’t Refer to Elderly Patients as ‘bed-blockers,’ Group Says

MONTREAL — Canada’s largest advocacy group for retirees has a message for hospitals: Treat your ailing elderly patients like people, not “bed-blockers.”

“Do you think they want to be there? If they had options, they’d leave immediately,” said Susan Eng, vice-president of CARP. “It’s (the hospitals’ fault) for not coordinating services.”

Hospitals trying to expedite seniors who no longer need acute care is a Canada-wide phenomenon, but the term bed-blockers is outrageous, Eng said.

“It belies a worrisome attitude toward a certain population of patients,” Eng said. “I’m not being hyper sensitive. I’m worried that they are not going to give them priority, that they won’t be treated well.”

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Provinces regulate a mix of profit and non-profit seniors residences and nursing homes. But delays for public nursing homes are long. They vary from province to province, an average one to three years, although emergency cases are bumped to the top of the list.

Many provinces, Ontario and Quebec included, are looking to home care to relieve the pressure on hospital wards. Ontario’s “virtual ward” and Quebec’s “soins-a-domicile” aims to send patients to their homes with intensified care.

Residents of private seniors homes are expected to be independent because these homes rarely provide complex medical care, Eng said, so that may explain Montreal’s vacancies.

“Our concern is safety standards,” Eng said.

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