Long term care or long term storage?

Some of us need long term care for our elderly relatives … it’s a legitimate need, not everyone can be cared for, adequately, at home, not even with some specialist support like a live-in caregiver …

… and successive governments have made the existing (previous?) live-in-caregiver programme more and more difficult to access for those in need and for those (foreign workers) willing to do the work.

We are, therefore, increasingly reliant on long term care facilities which, in most cases, are private operations that must make enough money to, at least, break even. For obvious reasons, these facilities vary in quality:

What you get for grandma or your frail old dad depends on what you can afford. Perhaps your loved-ones can have a nice, private one bedroom suite with excellent dining facilities and service, perhaps all you can afford is a bed in a semi-private room or even in a ward with barely adequate food service.

But the big problem in many (most? almost all?) long term care facilities seems to be staff. That assessment is being conformed in briefs given to Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.

The work is often hard ~ patients may have a range of physical and mental problems from dementia to mobility and bowel/bladder control. Since the owners need to make a profit ~ or go out of business, entirely ~ they pay relatively low wages. The problems are clear enough, so clear that we had to call in the Army to provide emergency support …

… the solutions are far less clear.

No on wants anything less than good quality care for their own loved ones, the best that we can afford … but almost no one wants to pay for the care of someone else’s relatives, either. We want good long-term care for grandad; we are content that our neighbour’s great aunt is placed in something more akin to long-term storage.

Long-term care facility owners and operators are not cruel and greedy; they are, mostly, honest businessmen and women trying to make a reasonable profit for their shareholders while offering an essential service to the community and paying market based wages to their workers.

So, what are the answers? Should be make long-term care facilities “public,” like our hospitals? Are our hospitals that good? Can our provincial health care budgets bear that? I don’t think so. There seems to be no easy way to improve the quality of long-term care facilities and still make them affordable to most Canadians. I don’t have an answer … but it’s a question we all need to ask ourselves: are we after long-term care for our elderly and disabled or just long-term storage?

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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1 Comment

  1. Same old story like any “public” service: do we spend tons of tax money on systems that not everyone may end up using, or have alternative arrangements for (like transit), or do we make user-pay the gold standard that leaves some to be cared for and others to be warehoused – or worse? Tough ball of string to unravel …

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