(Here is an open letter from Réseau FADOQ President, Gisèle Tassé-Goodman)
As population aging accelerates in Québec, we have important decisions to make. What kind of life do we want for the older members of our society?
You probably already know the numbers, but let’s reiterate them because time is running out. By 2031, seniors will account for a quarter of Québec’s population. In 2020, more than 315,000 Quebecers aged 65 and over required independent living support, according to the Research Chair in Intergenerational Economics, which forecasts that this number will increase to nearly 500,000 in 2035, and over 600,000 by 2050.
The pandemic has brought into focus issues that—unfortunately—have been raised for too long. For years, Réseau FADOQ has been calling for rapid improvements in CHSLDs and home support. Long before the arrival of COVID-19, the largest seniors’ organization in the country was repeatedly stressing the urgent need to humanize care in long-term care facilities. FADOQ has long highlighted the need for action rather than reaction when it comes to populating aging.
Reports, consultations and rhetoric have accumulated for years concerning home care, CHSLDs and the shortage of health care workers.
In 2022, it is time, once and for all, for policymakers to take action. Major changes must be made, particularly to the long-term care model, to reflect the needs and wishes of today’s seniors and those of tomorrow.
I am not telling you anything new when I say that a majority of seniors want to grow old at home. However, with the health care system in its current state, it is impossible for everyone to remain at home. More money must be invested quickly to expand the supply of home care and services. All experts agree that this is a necessary reform to delay the institutionalization of the frailest seniors.
In catch-up mode
In terms of financing, we are lagging far behind when compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The Legault government’s next budget must include massive investments to remedy the situation.
At Réseau FADOQ, we welcome Québec’s desire to promote and enhance the value of health care professions. However, sufficient resources must be provided to ensure that home support meets seniors’ needs.
In the context of accelerated population aging in Québec, improving access to home care would mean that institutional housing, such as CHSLDs, would be reserved for people with very complex needs necessitating specialized care.
We understand that improving home care must not be carried out at the expense of long-term care facilities. Nursing home residents need to be able to count on a complete team to provide care.
The recommendations in the Québec Ombudsman’s report, and those to come from Coroner Géhane Kamel and the Health and Welfare Commissioner, must be quickly implemented so that long-term care facilities can better fulfill their dual role as living environments and long-term care facilities.
We enjoy an exceptional quality of life, in large part thanks to the seniors who built modern Québec. We owe it to them to reform our long-term care model to ensure they age with dignity and respect.