2014

Home care a top priority for Canadians

But existing home care system is not ready for an aging population

OTTAWA, Oct. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadians see home and community care as an essential part of the health care system. In a 2012 survey, Canadians rated home care second only to doctors and nurses as a priority for public funding and investment.

Yet, most respondents to the survey conducted by EKOS Research Associates said they were dissatisfied with the availability of affordable home care in Canada. Moreover, few Canadians know much about the home care system until it directly affects them, according to a new Conference Board report, Future Care for Canadian Seniors-Why It Matters.

"Canadians lack knowledge about many things related to senior care - such as how the system works, who the players are, who pays and how they can access services," said Louis Theriault, Director Health Economics. "Because Canada's population is aging, it is urgent that we understand the current and future care needs of seniors and develop a plan accordingly."

HIGHLIGHTS
  • More than 90 per cent of Canadians 65 and over lived in private homes, according to the 2011 National Household Survey
  • Almost three-quarters of seniors in 2011 had at least one chronic health condition.
  • Most care and support for aging Canadians is provided by family and friends. In 2007, informal care totaled more than  1.5 billion hours - more than 10 times the number of paid hours provided for that same year.

The 2012 EKOS Research Associates survey for the Conference Board's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care asked respondents to identify preferences for improving the health care system. Fifty-two (52) per cent of respondents selected homecare as an appropriate area for governments to focus health care funding, surpassing hospitals (47 per cent) and second only to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals (67 per cent).

Similarly, given the option to allocate $1 billion in government funding to improve health care, 54 per cent of respondents selected expanded home and community care services, second only to better access to family doctors and nurses (chosen by 70 per cent).

Yet fewer than one in five (18 per cent) said they were satisfied with the availability of affordable home care. However, a large proportion (39 per cent) did not provide a response to this question, suggesting some uncertainty about this issue.

While most Canadians understand that governments won't pay all the costs, a large majority have no idea how they would pay for long-term care if they needed it. Care for seniors includes a variety of services and who pays for them is not well understood. There is much to do to inform policy makers and educate Canadians about this issue if Canada wants to better prepare to meet the care needs of seniors tomorrow and over the decades to come.

A 2012 Conference Board report, Home and Community Care in Canada: An Economic Footprint, estimated that 1.3 million Canadians received home care services. Most care was provided by family and friends through unpaid or informal care, totaling 1.5 billion hours.

This research series, Future Care for Canadian Seniors, will take a broader look at the care needs of today's and tomorrow's seniors, as well as the services that respond to those needs. The Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care, launched in 2011, is a five-year Conference Board program of research and dialogue. It will delve deeply into facets of Canada's health care challenge, including the financial, workplace, and institutional dimensions, in an effort to develop forward-looking qualitative and quantitative analysis and solutions to make the system more sustainable.

The Conference Board is hosting a Wellness and Sustainable Health Care Summit on October 30 and 31 in Toronto.  For the second consecutive year, the Summit will convene Canada's health system leaders to discuss the latest research, learn from top Canadian and international experts, and explore solutions for Canada's greatest health challenges and opportunities. More information about the program here.


 

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada



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