Modernised home care could improve aging in place and reduce the wait time for care spaces

If home care were to be an efficient, streamlined system, a greater number of seniors would, no doubt, choose to stay put and age in place. 

According to a study by CIHI - the Canadian Institute for Health Information, twenty percent of seniors admitted to care facilities in Canada don’t need to be there and could have continued living longer in their own homes if they had adequate support from home care services.

The study also showed that seniors already in hospital are six times more likely to go directly into long-term care than seniors who are assessed when living at home.

Hospitals were designed for short-term stays, but with seniors, they often have multiple conditions, so these would influence the decision of the assessment performed in hospital.

The CIHI results show that it might be better to give patients more time to recuperate, or perhaps even to wait until after the patient has returned home.

The study, called Seniors in Transition, highlights the need for health organizations to plan and co-ordinate their services such as home care, as Canada’s population ages. 

So, here we have two problems

Firstly, assessments in the hospital setting which are placing people in long term care facilities when they don't necessarily need to be there, thus depriving those people of the option to age in place longer.

Secondly a home care industry in need of a government mandate to evolve into a fully-fledged professional entity with adequately qualified personnel and a controlled fee structure.

In 2017, Canada has 6.2 million people over the age of 65, including 2.6 million over age 75. In 20 years, those numbers are projected to grow to 10.4 million, including 5.7 million over age 75 so it’s clear that this situation is going to get much worse if something isn’t done quickly.

What's to be done about home care and afterwards?

Many people who could benefit from a care system that supports independent living in their own homes are able to pay for the services but are not sure how to shop around for a suitable provider. 

Perhaps politicians don’t feel the need to address to this situation. It's clear, though, that clarification through innovative policy on the matter would be a tremendous help to this demographic group.

A rapidly growing number of people are nearing an age when they would like more certainty about how they are going to manage increasing dependency. Maybe the politicians who act on this, regardless of their political stripe, will attract a substantial number of votes.

One movement that has truly challenged the cracks in the care system is The Eden Alternative.

It was developed in the mid 1990’s by a visionary called Bill Thomas, a geriatric doctor, who called it a philosophy that seeks to address what he calls the three plagues of nursing homes: Loneliness, Helplessness and Boredom.

Dr. Thomas discovered that medical treatment is necessary but insufficient for quality of life, and needs to be the servant and not the master of care.

The mission of the philosophy - ‘To improve the well-being of elders and their care partners by transforming the communities in which they live and work’.

The Eden Alternative, which was intended to change the way existing long term care facilities operate has since given rise to The Green House Project which has been creating specially-designed homes in which elders can live with dignity, comfort and companionship.

There are already more than 100 Green House Project homes in 32 states, with more than 100 more in the works.

The Green House Project focuses on helping companies and individuals convert existing homes or build new ones that can provide high levels of care for people who do not wish to be a in a nursing home setting.

Some of the homes are licensed as nursing homes and others as assisted living communities.

Instead of a traditional group home, a Green House Project community consists of clusters of smaller homes with six to ten senior residents. 

Green House pastime

Each home has a central area with an open kitchen where someone is always cooking, surrounded by eight to ten private rooms each with its own bathroom. It is designed to make residents feel truly at home.

This touching and well produced video gives a sense of just how desirable a setting like this can be for people who wish to feel engaged with their environment during the more dependent time of life - click here.....The Green House Project

If you want to know more about The Green House Project and Dr. William Thomas check out some of the other videos included in the above link.

Call to action!

So, an arrangement combining effective home care delivery which supports aging in place in one's own home with the option of moving to a residence run on The Green House Project model of elder care would be a vast improvement on the current state of affairs.

There are only a few Green House Project type elder care homes in Canada and maybe there needs to be many more.

If this message were to be passed on to elected officials (incumbent and prospective) they may just respond to it if the numbers are great enough.