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New report decries “patchwork” approach to seniors care in Canada

A new report launched today by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) shows that many seniors are falling through cracks in terms of accessing care and services due to a lack of a national approach and strategy. The report, The State of Seniors Health Care in Canada, demonstrates the need for a pan-Canadian strategy to address the health needs of Canada’s growing senior population.

“In terms of health system performance, we know that few provinces report on health system indicators related to seniors care, such as access to home care, specialty care and geriatric psychiatry. Frankly, that is unacceptable in 2016,” said Dr. Granger Avery, CMA President. “We believe a common vision for action and improvements in how seniors care is measured and delivered across the country is required now.”

The report contends that improvements in seniors care require the following elements:

  • increased focus on healthy aging;
  • improved integration of health and social services;
  • appropriate and timely care; and
  • support for family and other caregivers.

“Make no mistake about this. There is an urgent need to remake health care in this country to meet the needs of today’s aging population,” added Dr. Avery. “Improving how we care for seniors will benefit all Canadians today and tomorrow.”

The CMA has identified seniors care as a top public policy priority for governments in Canada. This call to action is supported by over 36,000 Canadians through CMA’s Demand a Plan campaign.

To spur action, the CMA has made several recommendations targeted toward improving seniors care, including increased support for home care and caregivers, as well as increasing provincial and territorial governments’ capacity to respond effectively to the needs of an aging population.

Key facts supporting the need for better seniors care

  • The aging Canadian population is expected to result in 277,000 new cases of cancer in 2030;
  • The number of Canadians living with dementia is expected to rise 66% in the next 15 years;
  • The risk of dementia doubles every five years after the age of 65;
  • By 2041, seniors will have the highest rate of mental illness in Canada;
  • Nearly 3 in 10 Canadians now care for a loved one, and the number of seniors expected to need help or care will double in the next 30 years.

The CMA will partner with Canada 2020 to host a Health Summit on Thursday, September 29, to bring together key health care stakeholders and decision-makers to discuss, debate and discover implementable solutions in a new Health Accord that will lead to better health outcomes and quality of life – particularly for Canada’s elderly population. The summit will welcome, among others: the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health; Senator Chantal Petitclerc; Simon Kennedy, Deputy Minister, Health Canada; Michael Decter, Board Chair, Patients Canada; and Fred Horne, Principal, Horne & Associates.