School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies

Queen's Contagion Cultures Lecture Series

September 29, 2020

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Continuing Care of the Elderly: Long-Term Care's Big Picture

Don Drummond
Stauffer-Dunning Fellow, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

Duncan G. Sinclair
Adjunct Professor, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

The need for continuing care of the elderly is about to soar. Canada is unprepared. Without a policy change, the current population in nursing homes, chronic care hospitals and retirement homes (about 350,000) will grow to nearly a million by 2041, well beyond the capacity of the provinces and territories to expand their long-term “bed” facilities and also make them safer from infectious diseases like COVID-19. The alternative is to emulate other countries where a wide range of home and community care services enable people to remain happily and successfully in their own or their family’s homes far longer and less expensively than in Canada. Ontario’s cost per day is $842 in a hospital, $126 in a long-term care facility and $42 in home care.

The forthcoming reviews of care-homes may well miss the big picture that beds and facilities constitute but one part of the care continuum people need for their well-being. It is also just possible that the COVID-19 pandemic will bring long-overdue recognition that high quality continuing care of the elderly and other vulnerable people is right up there among the essential services Canadians need to optimize their health and well-being.