Report: Canada’s Aging Population Could Mean More Nursing Homes

A new health care document published in Canada argues that the country’s growing population of older residents and a diminished ability to provide home care could also cause Canada to become a country of…

Report: Canada's Aging Population Could Mean More Nursing Homes

A new health care document published in Canada argues that the country’s growing population of older residents and a diminished ability to provide home care could also cause Canada to become a country of larger and larger nursing homes in the future.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Residential Care is recommending that the country shift some of its vast nursing home system to local group homes and other arrangements where residents live with their families.

The report, released in March, recommends increasing the regulation of home care and other approaches to finding and integrating care in older populations, and it cites a real desire in the country for more simplicity and better living.

In the report, the commission’s leaders highlight that fact that a senior’s level of care, particularly in their final years, has as great a bearing on their quality of life as how they feel about themselves.

The commission, made up of health care experts, says the percentage of Canadians aged 65 or older is expected to double to 17 percent by 2026, and the people who are aging and becoming part of a rapidly growing population are not being well looked after.

“Caring for older Canadians requires a full range of services that are more effective, humane and affordable,” commission chairman Ian Lee of Carleton University in Ottawa wrote in a Toronto Star article published this month.

Canada is expecting a very substantial demographic shift. The country will be home to 7.5 million people aged 65 and older by 2029, an increase of more than 5 million, and the percentage of elderly households is projected to jump to 28 percent by 2046, from 12 percent in 2010.

Annual spending on residential care in Canada was roughly $14 billion in 2016, nearly 18 percent of the country’s total public expenditure on health care, the Blue Ribbon Commission said. The commission recommends an increase in funding for seniors care to between 4 percent and 6 percent of health care spending, it says.

The commission encourages the government to consider economic development projects in aging regions of the country, to provide incentives for creation of low-cost, safe housing in designated aging communities, and to assist cities with rezoning and other land-use decisions that would encourage elderly people to stay close to their homes.

Canada already limits the amount of government funding a government hospital will pay to a home for each bed. There are currently about 300 hospital beds reserved for out-of-hospital residents.

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