New Brunswick

Canadian Medical Association joins call for better home care

The president of the Canadian Medical Association is joining doctors in New Brunswick who are calling for improvements to the home care system in the province.

President Chris Simpson says 'robust' home care system must be part of new senior care strategy

The president of the Canadian Medical Association is joining doctors in New Brunswick who are calling for improvements to the home care system in the province.

Dr. Chris Simpson, who is a native of Nackawic, says the overcrowding problem in hospitals is "the thin edge of the wedge" and won't be solved until there is a national senior care strategy.

Simpson points out that New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are at the leading edge of the crisis since they are tied for having the most seniors per capita in the country.

"It's only going to get worse unless we come up with some very clear plan about how we're going to do things differently," he said in an interview Thursday on Information Morning Moncton.

"Now that we're actually starting to see actual problems starting to develop with hospitals overcrowding — in particular with the high proportion of seniors who are in hospital waiting to go to nursing homes or waiting to go home with better home care support."

Simpson says the Canadian Medical Association is calling on the federal government to "right-size" its health care transfers to the provinces according to the age of their populations.

"Most recently the federal government announced that their health transfers are going to be on a per capita basis which significantly disadvantages older populations like New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and even Quebec and B.C. because it takes much more to look after somebody who's 75 or 80 or 85 versus somebody who is 35. And so the discrepancy between provinces will continue to grow."

Home care part of solution

Simpson also wants to see an improved home care system that can look after people with chronic diseases outside of the hospital setting.

"Home care that is really robust can deliver much better care at a much lower cost." 

Simpson says it is time to move beyond blaming politicians and start coming up with imaginative solutions.

"The bottom line is it costs $1,000 per day to keep somebody in a hospital and home care costs $50 or $100 per day — you can say there's no money to invest in home care but it's not like these seniors are just going to go away. They're going to keep pouring into emergency departments and keep being admitted to hospital."

Earlier this month Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers said there is no money to improve the wage paid to home care workers in New Brunswick.

Simpson says refusing to improve wages to attract more people to the home care field is a mistake. 

"It's simply wrong to say that by limiting spending we're going to make the problem go away."

He adds there are good models in Europe to look to when it comes to caring for aging populations.

"I've often cited Denmark which has invested very heavily in home care and by doing so they've been able to actually close hospital beds and they haven't had to build a new nursing home for 20 years." 

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