IRPP Study, No. 23, November 2011
Providing alternatives to hospital and institutional care for the nation’s expanding older population is one of the greatest social policy challenges Canadian governments are facing.
Current long-term care policies assume that families (mostly adult children) are available to
provide the care needed by their dependent elderly members, and that they have an obligation to do so. But in the next 30 years, the number of elderly Canadians needing assistance is expected to double, and considering that there will be a much smaller cadre of adult children,this will inevitably increase the need for more costly formal care.
This IRPP study is an overview of caregiving in Canada today, including the costs incurred by
caregivers and the type and extent of public support they receive. Author Janice Keefe presents projections of future care needs and examines potential improvements in policy for income security programs, labour market regulation and human resource management in health and home care.
Informal caregivers are family members, friends or neighbours, most frequently women, who
provide unpaid care to a person who needs support due to a disability, illness or other difficulty,sometimes for extended periods. They bear substantial costs — economic, social, physical or psychological. For instance, they are likely to incur out-of-pocket expenses and significant lifetime income losses, and they commonly experience stress, social isolation and guilt. Such personal costs can negatively impact the caregivers’ economic security, health and well-being.
Canadian governments must re-examine existing public services and programs to ensure that
they meet the care needs of the elderly, and to address the adverse consequences of unpaid caregiving. More specifically, informal caregivers should receive financial compensation, together with in-kind support such as home help, education and referral services.
At present, the status of caregivers vis-à-vis existing public policy and programs is ambiguous. More public support for caregivers would not only demonstrate greater recognition of caregiving, it would also reduce the need for formal care, delay institutionalization and relieve the cost pressure on the long-term care and health care systems. Given the anticipated shortages of health care workers in Canada, competition for health care resources is expected to be fierce in the coming years. To recruit and retain home support workers in all sectors, whether in voluntary, for-profit or public organizations, working conditions must be enhanced. Key in this regard are compensation levels, education, training and clear quality assurance accountability structures.
Caring for our elderly population is going to be a costly proposition and it is an issue that Canadians, all of us will have to grapple with and elderly population increases and supersedes those who pay taxes. How are we going to handle this.
I believe that children should step in and take care of parents who have been good to them. I think it would be good that we should incorporate a small house or small apartment attached to our homes where we could put our loved ones so that we could help to take care of them in a home setting rather than in a hospital. While there, we could receive help from the government to cover basic costs or hire someone to come in and take care of our loved ones when we are at work. The point is we will be able to ensure that our loved ones receive the proper care and not abused and misused in institutions. They will be in a loving environment and greater access to their grand children who might be more willing to spend time reading stories for their grandparents or just visit with them for a little while.
I just think that the way we treat our elders it might as well we euthanize them. Because they are just existing in these death watch places. Why keep them alive. God knows if they have any consciousness how sad and disappointed they might be to live to see a lonely sad old age, waiting patiently to die after all the joys of life had gone out of them including spending quality time with their children being as part of a loving family. Just my thoughts today.1