Sunday, December 10, 2023

December 6 2023

Progress on the layered needs in elder care

One of the many lessons we can draw from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to do much better when it comes to care of the elderly and others with special needs. Families paid a high price as Canada learned this lesson.

A report released one-year into the pandemic showed that Canada had the worst record for COVID deaths in long-term care homes when compared with other wealthy countries. The study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information showed that nursing home deaths represented 69 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths to that time – much higher than the global average of 41 per cent.

Over that 12-month period, COVID-19 outbreaks occurred in 2,500 long-term care homes, resulting in 14,000 resident deaths.

Changes in how our society approaches elder care are happening, but arguably not fast enough. It’s a layered challenge, stretching from home care and community supports to better models for long-term care facilities.

We’re pleased to see the province addressing those long-term care needs as it rolls out announcements this past week. New spaces are being created in communities across the province, including in Sherbrooke. Importantly, the new homes feature single rooms with private bathrooms. This model has been recommended as part of the solution in reducing the spread of viruses in nursing homes. It also provides a much higher quality of life for those who built our communities and country, in their elderly years.

As Luke Ettinger reports this week, High-Crest Sherbrooke nursing home will be replaced with a new 48-room home for the area. And it will be expanded, with nine additional beds.

Time is of the essence when making these and other investments in senior care and supports. Seniors make up close to 22 per cent of the province’s population, with that figure expected to grow to more than 25 per cent by 2032.

We hope to see further investments in these areas soon. The needs of rural seniors are particularly pressing, with isolation and the high cost of gas for travel compounding other challenges.

This investment in the Sherbrooke nursing home is indeed part of the solution in our area, and we look forward to seeing in take shape in the coming years.