Canadians desperate for a national seniors care strategy as population ages

OTTAWA, Aug. 18, 2014 /CNW/ - Nearly all Baby Boom Canadians aged 45 years and over (95 per cent) identify the need for a panCanadian seniors care strategy, according to the Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) 2014 National Report Card on health issues.

Not only are 81 per cent of these Canadians concerned with the quality of health care they can expect in their future, 78 per cent are worried about their ability to access quality home and long-term care in their retirement years, the Ipsos Reid poll found.

"As the Canadian Baby Boom generation looks down the road to the future they see clearly that Canada desperately needs a seniors strategy and politicians should pay attention during the next federal election. This should be an issue one would ignore at their own political peril," CMA President Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti said today.

The poll results highlight the urgency of this issue and that it remains a pertinent concern for all those interested in accessing efficient health care as they age-both for themselves and their loved ones, said Ipsos Mike Colledge, President Public Affairs at Ipsos Reid.

Nine out of 10 respondents (91 per cent) agreed a national seniors care strategy would improve the overall health care system. Elderly patients could be cared for at home or in long-term care facilities, alleviating chronic hospital bed shortages that are pushing up wait times for everything from emergency treatment to hip transplants.

Furthermore, this type of infrastructure planning would lend itself to a better use of health care dollars. One day of care for a patient in a hospital remains high at $1, 000. By contrast, one day spent in a long-term care facility costs about $130 and home care $55.  The CMA estimates at least $2.3 billion a year could be used in a more effective way in the health care system.

While there is an obvious need to create more efficient and effective community care for seniors, six out of 10 respondents were not confident these existing facilities will be able to handle the needs of an aging population and eight in 10 were not confident that they will even have access to these services. The results also show that there appears to be more acute concern about health care in old age among those aged 45 to 54.

This can be partly attributed to the fact that more than a quarter (26%) of younger respondents caregivers to an aging relative or friend and nearly three quarters (71%) of this group said this conflicts with their employment.

"We are seeing more of a concern from younger populations caring for their elderly family members and from those about to enter retirement," said Dr. Francescutti. "An aging population, living longer with more chronic illnesses will affect all of us."

In fact, the research showed that those aged 75 years and older are quite confident about their health care planning and the services that will be available to them. This was in stark contrast to pre-retirees who are more reluctant.

Concern is also acute over being able to afford health care services that are not funded by public insurance plans. While the majority (68%) of older Canadians have supplemental insurance today, only half (50%) say they could afford expenses not covered by Medicare.  Concerns about affording uninsured services are higher among those who have not yet retired (76%) than they are among current retirees (63%).

"We should not accept that a country as prosperous as Canada has such a large portion of its population living in fear for the future as they age," said Dr. Francescutti. "We need to take immediate action to tackle this issue and job one must be to get a seniors care strategy on each political platform as we approach the 2015 federal election."

The Ipsos Reid poll was conducted by phone between July 17 and July 24 with 1,000 Canadians aged 45 years and older. This sample provides a plus or minus 3.1 percentage point margin of error for the overall national findings at a 95% confidence interval. 

Click here to read the report.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 80,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 60 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care.

 

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association

For further information: Dominique Jolicoeur, Communications Officer, Tel.: 613-731-8610 or 800-663-7336 ext. 2038, Cell: 613-809-5669, dominique.jolicoeur@cma.ca

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