Canadian Medical Association Sounds Alarm About Shortage of Long Term Care Beds: Over 2500 new sites needed over next 20 years

At their AGM in August, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) accepted and approved a report on health care transformation and the need to modernize Medicare - particularly in light of the aging society. Among other things, the report focused on improving population health, patient satisfaction and value for investment.

The report calls for a re-examination of the Canada Health Act to help close accessibility gaps in continuing care and develops a policy framework under five pillars:

  • Build a culture of patient-centred care
  • Enhance access and improving quality of care
  • Improve patient access along the continuum of care - outside acute care facilities
  • Help providers help patients with adequate supply of health human resources
  • Establish accountability/responsibility at all levels

With the context of these pillars, the report presents 14 recommendations, including:

  • Begin construction immediately on additional long term care facilities
  • Create national standards for continuing care provision in terms of eligibility criteria, care delivery and accommodation expenses
  • Develop options to facilitate pre-funding long-term care needs
  • Initiate a national dialogue on Canada Health Act in relation to continuum of care
  • Explore ways to support informal care givers and long-term care patients
  • Invest in recruitment and retention strategies for health care workers
  • Establish an arms length mechanism to monitor the financing of health care programs at national and provincial level

The report gets more specific about some of these recommendations - particularly related to the variation across the country in the accessibility criteria for placement in long-term care facilities and home support. These include:

  • Need to fund 2,500 additional long-term care homes by 2031 - with Building Canada fund as possible funding source
  • Create national standards focused on eligibility criteria, care delivery and accommodation expenses - based on Veterans Independence Program
  • Make long-term care insurance premiums tax deductible
  • Introduce a Registered Long-Term Care plan or consider a third provision for RRSPs similar to Lifelong Learning Plan and Home Buyers Plan

New Brunswick is recognized as a model for long-term care investment and the April 2009 Senate Committee Report on Aging is referenced. With regard to reporting, Ontario is recognized as a national leader and the report recommends an approach that shifts the focus from 'blame and shame' to quality improvement.



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