Canada’s Minister of Health released Canada’s first ever National Dementia Strategy last week, A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire. “This is a historic and long overdue moment for Canada,” says NIA Director of Health Policy Research, Dr. Samir Sinha. “We have lagged behind other major countries in being one of the last to develop a strategy, but have made up for this with a funded, collaborative, and thoughtful strategy developed with the input of experts, including, most importantly, many of those living with and affected by dementia.”
“Pharmacare for all: that’s our prescription” Last week, the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released its final report and recommendations to the federal government. The Council has definitively recommended that the federal government work with provincial and territorial governments, and stakeholders, to establish universal, single-payer, public pharmacare in Canada.
Revolutions are messy. They disrupt and challenge what is currently in place, without fully revealing what is to come. When living through revolutionary times, it is easy to think that the full story can be known. We tell ourselves narratives that make the changes of the day less painful or more aligned with our own values, interests and beliefs.
In yesterday’s budget, the Government of Ontario took an important step forward in providing free dental care for low-income seniors. The move by the government shows growing recognition that good oral health is an essential component of comprehensive health.
NIA report shows action needed to increase pneumonia vaccination rates.Urgent action is needed to address Canada’s low vaccination rates when it comes to pneumonia, according to a new report by the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) at Ryerson University.
Budget enhances financial security for older adults and establishes foundation for national pharmacare
Yesterday, the federal government dropped the final budget of their current mandate with big promises for older Canadians. With an election on the horizon in 7 months, seniors - the strongest voting demographic - have their issues firmly on the table. The budget includes investments to improve financial security, protect workplace pensions, and empower seniors to live independent, active and engaged lives, as detailed in the NIA’s National Seniors’ Strategy. We identified important enhancements to retirement security and pension benefits, support for local seniors’ programs, movement on the National Dementia Strategy and positive developments in the effort to establish national pharmacare.
Each year, the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) identifies a key policy challenge to address through expert research, broad engagement, and actionable reports. In 2018 we focused on Frailty, Working Caregivers and an ongoing series on Adult Immunization. This year, with support from and in collaboration with our series partners AdvantAge Ontario, Essity, and Home Instead Senior Care - the NIA is launching a three-part policy series that examines the current system and future of long-term care for older Canadians covering the spectrum of home care and community care, to a variety of residential and nursing home services.
The Value of a Good Pension, supported by the work of NIA Director of Financial Security Research, Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, compares five types of retirement arrangements on a scale ranging from more individual to more collective approaches to saving for retirement.
Canada is falling short of the immunization rates needed to protect all Canadians, but the National Institute on Ageing’s (NIA) leadership in advocating for more effective public policies is spurring provincial governments to act.
The NIA is working with a coalition comprised of pension and seniors advocates to enhance Canada’s retirement income options, asking the Government of Canada to make collective longevity risk pooling arrangements available to Canadians. The coalition includes ACPM, CARP, the CIA, CLHIA, Common Wealth, PIAC, and notable pension expert, Keith Ambachtsheer.
The NIA is excited to announce the launch of the ground-breaking new report, Toronto Social Capital Study. The report, conducted by the Environics Institute for the Toronto Foundation’s annual Vital Signs program, is a first of its kind research on levels of social participation, trust, and engagement in Toronto.
Being a family caregiver is exhausting - physically, emotionally and spiritually. This takes a toll, not only on the caregiver, but can also affect their relationship with the patient. Whether you’re a spouse, parent, child, sibling, cousin, or friend, you want to keep on good terms with the person you are caring for.
On several occasions, when my husband was discharged from the hospital, he was attached to a pump which automatically dispensed antibiotics from a bag to fight off a recurring infection. This bag needed to be changed every 24 hours. Unfortunately, every time he was sent home with this device, home care wasn’t available for three days after we arrived home. The first time this happened I called everyone I could think of, but it was the weekend, and no one was available. The second time, I figured out how to change it myself. In my previous blog, I suggested hospitals train caregivers on basic first aid just in case, and this is a great example of why caregivers need training. No one wants to go back to the hospital if the problem can be taken care of at home.
After my husband’s fifth surgery, he developed other health issues and required more specialists to become involved. As his caregiver, I was responsible not only for juggling home and hospital care, but also coordinating with the other specialties as well. It was mind-boggling. Reflecting on the whole experience, I came up with some ideas that would have made a significant difference for both my husband’s recovery and my wellness.
There’s one group of people without whom our health and social care systems would be unaffordable -family caregivers. About 1 in 4 Canadians provide unpaid care to another person, such as a spouse, parent, friend or another person in their life. These unpaid services contribute $25 billion annually in off-set costs to our health care systems.
As I reflect on the ten operations my husband had and my caregiver role, I wish someone had taken me aside and given me some advice. There’s a lot to consider when someone is heading to the hospital. Identifying a family caregiver can make it much easier for the health care system to coordinate treatment plans. Choose someone who is willing and able to be your advocate, interact with health care providers, and advise others in the family of progress, issues, and other considerations. Make sure you have all your questions ready and if something comes up at the hospital that you don’t understand, speak up – make sure you understand what is happening. I recommend taking notes of who said what.
As our population ages, our public institutions, and approaches to health care, transportation, housing, and retirement savings will need to respond to a new demographic reality. The National Institute on Ageing (NIA) and Ryerson University are getting out ahead of this trend and leading institutions of higher education by becoming Toronto’s first and Canada’s largest Age-Friendly University.
When my husband went into the hospital for an operation, I was up for the challenge of a three-month recovery. Having raised four kids, I felt I had the skills needed. But things didn’t go as planned and by operation number five, I was struggling. Then he developed other health issues. By the ninth operation in year five, I was depressed. ‘In sickness and in health’ is what I signed up for as his wife, so I felt a huge responsibility. Every day was so busy I had no time for myself. I had no idea I had a title, ‘Caregiver’.
At some point in life, nearly all of us will be caregivers for our parents, friends, partners, neighbours or family members. Most of us don’t realize we are in this informal (unpaid) role. We see it as just “helping a person we care about”. Yet, in the health care system, caregivers are an essential part of the patient's journey. Caregivers navigate the options; work with clinicians to diagnose or develop a care plan; find and organize the right services; accompany patients at hospitals and doctors' offices; cook meals; provide transportation; and can be on duty 24/7 when they live with person who requires care.
Most of us are unlikely to give much thought to the flu during the sunny, warm days of summer. But this is precisely the time that provincial governments need to look ahead, plan, and procure vaccines for the upcoming influenza season.