Urgent action needed to protect seniors in long-term care - CARP

More than 8 in 10 of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada are linked to long-term care homes—nearly twice as high as other developed nations

The status quo is unacceptable. Long-term care in Canada needs to be re-built from the ground up, with home and community care as the foundation.

Residential care facilities (what most people think of when talking about long-term care) have long been plagued by underlying systemic vulnerabilities—severe underfunding, chronic understaffing, out-dated facilities with multi-room wards—these challenges existed before COVID-19, and will continue to threaten the lives of vulnerable residents without immediate action.

To protect seniors in care homes, CARP renews our standing and urgent demands that government commit to:

  • Minimum staffing levels that include more interdisciplinary, full time staff to improve continuity of care
  • Training and education to support ongoing professional development and specialization for care workers, managers and boards
  • Innovative solutions that will provide increased space for quarantines, access to rapid testing, and personal protective equipment
  • Funding for long-term care home renewal projects, including HVAC, floor and window replacements, water and sewer line replacement, and building upgrades (additional bathrooms, reconfiguring 4-bedroom wards)
  • Funding for transformative and compassionate dementia care model in long-term care facilities
  • Fully funded high-dose flu vaccines and expansion of pneumococcal coverage for Canadians over 65 in congregate settings

These measures would go a long way in preventing further catastrophic loss of life in residential care facilities. But fixing long-term care in our country will take more than short-term solutions.

To keep our vulnerable seniors safe, there’s no place like home.

CARP is urging governments to recognize that home care and community-based care solutions are critical to resolving the long-term care crisis.

9 in 10 CARP members tell us they want to age in place, and nearly a quarter have admitted to supplementing publicly funded home care with private alternatives.

Compared to other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Canada spends significantly less of its long-term care spending on home and community care vs. nursing home care, ensuring the status quo remains unchallenged.

Long-term care funding allocation

% spent on residential care (nursing homes) % spent on home & community care
Canada 87 13
OECD country average 65 35
Denmark 36 64

 

Even before COVID-19 hit, publicly-funded home care services were rigid, rationed and difficult to access. Further, due to the high cost of private alternatives, the vast majority of home care needs in Canada could not be met without the fundamental support of unpaid family/friend caregivers, who, according to a recent University of Alberta study, deliver the health system an estimated $66 billion of care annually.

CARP is calling on governments to better support Canadians living in their homes for longer, by:

  • Increasing support for front line home care, respite care, and day programs to enable aging in place
  • Increasing funding and use of technology-enabled home care solutions to better support individuals living safely and autonomously
  • Expanding tele-health care solutions to support patients and families, and maintain options for physicians to continue with remote consults via phone or video conference
  • Ensuring all caregivers have access to financial relief through the federal Family Caregiver Tax Credit by making it refundable or a rebate

Become a CARP member today to join our fight to keep seniors safe, and empower them to choose where they age.

Quick facts

By 2037:

  • Canada’s seniors population is expected to grow by 68% from 6.2 million to 10.4 million
  • The 75+ age group will double

By 2035:

  • Canada will need an additional 199,000 long-term care beds (doubling the current capacity)

A shared approach to care

Long-term care should be included under Federal government legislation, to enable shared funding between the federal government and the provinces/territories.

Funding should be contingent on maintaining national standards of care.

Read more

CARP Members speak out on long-term care

We polled our Members, collecting their thoughts and concerns about long-term care in Canada.

Their responses send a loud and clear message: change is needed now.

Read the release