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(Here is an open letter from Réseau FADOQ President, Gisèle Tassé-Goodman)
After two years of the pandemic I’m still asking myself the same fundamental question: are we ready to deal with our rapidly aging population?
Not all older people are in a state of diminished independence. They are your parents, who are extending their careers and are eager to travel. They are your grandparents, who are avid cyclists. They’re your aunts and uncles who are members of a reading club. They are semi-retired people with part-time jobs in a neighbourhood business, and volunteers lending a helping hand in many organizations.
Their social contributions are immense, both in the job market and in their families.
Although they are active and enjoy good health, they will nevertheless require health service sooner or later. That’s life. We knew that this moment would arrive and that the demand for care would be higher due to population aging. But our health system does not appear to be adequately prepared to respond. That being said, will all these people actually need hospital care?
Premier François Legault and Health Minister Christian Dubé are determined to “rebuild” the health network. We need to get started quickly because change is not going to happen with a simple snap of the fingers.
Failure is not an option. We must ensure that the health care system responds to Quebecers’ wishes so that today’s seniors, as well as those of tomorrow, age with dignity.
Put the focus on home care and services
Like a boxer after a fierce 12-round fight, our health care system is battered by two years of pandemic.
To shift away from the hospital-centric approach that has proven to be inefficient, it is more necessary than ever to invest in the development of medical care at home in a manner appropriate to the 21st century. Numerous examples, both here and around the world, demonstrate that this is a win-win situation for patients and for the health care system.
At Réseau FADOQ, we receive masses of messages from seniors asking for the expansion of home care and services. We need to give them the tools to stay in their homes as long as possible. This is their most heartfelt desire. Furthermore, studies have shown that it is financially advantageous for the state.
Profound changes are needed
Beyond investments, which must at least match the average of OECD countries, we must review the entire way home care operates. Institutional decentralization is necessary so that decisions can be made closer to the ground.
To increase the supply of home care, it will be necessary to continue to decompartmentalize the health care professions. The government and the professional associations must do their utmost to ensure that everyone is involved in this revolution in senior care.
It’s no secret that we will also need to attract young people into the health care field so that the system is ready for what’s coming. Without delay, working conditions must be improved, these jobs must be promoted, and cohorts must be increased so that graduates enter the workforce as quickly as possible.
The challenges for the Québec health system are numerous. Home care and services are only part of the solution. The whole system needs to be thoroughly reviewed, even if we have a good idea of the diagnosis. And treatment must begin before it’s too late.