Update from CARP North Bay & District – March 2015

Spring is here!

Wishing you a peaceful Easter that fills you with new life and vitality.
Wishing you a peaceful Easter that fills you with new life and vitality.

Save the Date – May 2nd, 2015

“Live to 100” annual CARP North Bay & District conference, held at Clarion Resort Pinewood Park. Tickets are $25 for CARP members and $40 for non-members.
To reserve your spot, or for more information, please email us at [email protected].

Message from our Chapter Chair

As you will see from the articles we are bringing to your attention, there are many problems with our health care system in Ontario. The government has been trying to shift more and more care from hospitals to community and homes. While this is the right thing to do, from this writer’s perspective it is not happening effectively. The recent report from Gail Donner’s “Expert Panel” offers many recommendations few of which are new. Read more .  The big question is will the government implement some or all of them and when.

Navigating Ontario’s many services to seniors is frustrating beyond belief – even for someone within the health care profession! Whether it’s hospital care – or the lack of it in Northern Ontario –  assisted housing, mental health services, Long Term Care, homecare, legal issues of Power of Attorney, or a myriad of other challenges for seniors and their caregivers, it’s a nightmare. For that reason your board is applying for a grant to cover travel expenses and communications to take on the role of Advocate for the complex navigation process. We hear everywhere the frustration faced often by caregivers in attempting this task and we think we can help.

By the way did you know 80% of caregiving in Ontario is done by unpaid family and friends??? Imagine the cost if this were paid for by government programs!!! Its time this task was recognized with financial support either through grants or tax credits or both!!! Join us in responding to these issues by working on committees or organizing events to raise awareness and respond to these needs. Start by attending our conference May 2Zoomer North – live to 100. Some research experts say we will be able to live to 100 soon, The question is do we want to?”

Wait times for primary and specialist care longest in Canada, among 11 countries

Older Canadians report having longer waits and more difficulties seeing a doctor or nurse when they need medical attention than older people in 10 comparator countries. When they do see their doctor, however, results are more positive for many aspects of their care. (www.cihi.ca; 01/29/2015) Read more

Ontario pledges palliative care teams for patients wishing to die at home

For nearly two years, Darren Cargill, a palliative medicine specialist in Windsor, Ont., has been waiting for the money that he and his team of doctors and nurses were promised to provide round-the-clock support to gravely ill patients who want to die in their own homes. (The Globe and Mail; Kelly Grant; 03/03/2015) Read more

Patient advocates warn of deteriorating home care; System struggling as hospitals release people ‘quicker and sicker,’ group claims

Ontario’s home-care system is struggling as hospitals discharge patients “quicker and sicker” and as funding fails to keep pace with growing demands, a patient advocacy group charges. (Toronto Star; Theresa Boyle Toronto Star; 03/11/2015) Read more

Home builders adapting to meet needs of an aging population

More and more baby boomers and seniors are choosing to live out their golden years in their own homes instead of assisted living facilities. Such is the case for Art and Oriole Veldhuis, 78 and 80, who’ve lived in their River Heights home for three decades and have no plans to move anytime soon. (CTV Winnipeg; Karen Rocznik; 03/02/2015) Read more

Less can be more: tips for downsizing

The Property Brothers share their tips and tactics for downsizing without stepping down. Read more

Anti-aging diet

The anti-aging diet, also called the calorie-restriction diet, is one that restricts calorie intake by 30%–50% of the normal or recommended intake with the goal of increasing human lifespan by at least 30%. When combined with a healthy lifestyle, people on the diet tend to have improved health, providing they consume adequate vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Read more

Seven gardening tasks to do before the spring thaw

Gardeners know that the growing season doesn’t begin on a warm morning in May—there is much to be done while frost still lingers in the ground. In the lengthening days of earliest spring, while the sap is still flowing, we should be up and about the potting shed, getting ready for the planting rush. Read more

Why women lag in retirement planning

Women not only earn less and devote less of their income to savings and investments than Canadian men do, but are also significantly less engaged in managing their finances, finds a BlackRock survey. Read more

Ontario’s home care system in failing health; New report says urgent action needed to fix it

Ottawa Citizen, Randall Denley

In the last few years, I have spent a lot of time talking to seniors and those who look after them. That’s what happens when your parents reach their 80s, and you run for office in the riding with the highest percentage of seniors in the province.

What I have heard is that home care for seniors is characterized by confusion over what’s available and a severe lack of resources for both the elderly and the family members who care for them.

This city is full of heart-breaking stories of aging spouses and adult children who are providing huge amounts of help for their family members while trying to negotiate a care system that is complex, seemingly arbitrary and often unreliable. Citizen columnist Hugh Adami’s article last week about a blind 96-yearold who has had her personal care assistance cut back to twice a week from twice a day is sadly typical of what’s happening.

A new report on home care, commissioned by the provincial government, bears out what I have heard. Chaired by former University of Toronto nursing dean Gail Donner, the expert panel concludes that Ontario’s home care system just doesn’t work and that urgent action is needed to fix it.

The report’s primary conclusion is not very nuanced: “With no co-ordinated system strategy for home and community care, these pressures are creating challenges that need urgent attention. There is too much variability in access to services and too little accountability for outcomes. Everyone – clients and families, providers and funders – is frustrated with a system that fails to meet the needs of clients and families. Stakeholders may not agree on what the solutions are; however, no one thinks the status quo is an option.”

The report recommends that the province spell out what services are offered, who is entitled to them, and how they go about getting them. Expected service levels and outcomes should be measured and reported on, the panel suggests.

The Community Care Access Centres were started in 1997 on the premise that dealing with a single agency would make it easier for people to get service. That’s still a good theory, but the execution is lacking.

This is doubly frustrating. Providing comprehensive home care is not only the right and humane thing to do, it’s the most cost effective. Helping a senior remain in her own home with home care services is far cheaper than the cost of a long-term care or hospital bed.

Hospital budgets have been frozen and longterm care expansions put offon the grounds that people can be looked after better at home, That’s true, but only if we have a well-organized, accessible, fully-funded home care system.

The fact that the government appointed an expert panel to review the sector might be taken as a sign that it knows things need to be fixed. Health Minister Eric Hoskins says the report will be an important guide as the government transforms the sector.

However, the government also has a track record of seeking expert advice, then not taking it.

The government’s main talking point about home care has been that spending has doubled over a decade. Unfortunately, so has the number of people seeking home care help. Taking into account inflation and the increased level of care required by aging seniors, it’s difficult to think there has been any real gain at all.

How much will government do to respond to this new report? Not to be overly cynical, but spelling out what people should be getting and making it easier to get will raise both expectations and costs. This is not necessarily desirable for a cash-strapped government.

Like it or not, the provincial government has a responsibility to tell Ontarians what it can afford to offer, and to deliver the service. Government can do many things poorly and not necessarily harm people, except in the pocket book. When the care just isn’t there for our seniors, real people actually suffer. Who supports that?