Saskatoon

Look to home care to help aging Sask. population, says analyst

As Saskatchewan's population ages the demands on the healthcare system grow, and health policy analyst Steven Lewis weighs in on better solutions.

Steven Lewis says Canada should help seniors stay in their homes for longer

Steven Lewis says Canada should focus on home care for seniors. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

As Saskatchewan's population ages, the demands on the healthcare system grow, and health policy analyst Steven Lewis says we should be looking towards home care to meet those needs.

"Most people would prefer not to be in the nursing home," he said on CBC's Saskatoon Morning. "Even the best nursing homes are pretty forbidding places."

Lewis said the focus in Canada has historically been on institutional care. Communities thought it was good when they

It's a bit of a poker game.- Steven Lewis, Health Policy Analyst

got a new nursing home. But Lewis points to the European system as an example of better social support systems within the home.

"In 1989, Denmark actually passed a law that said we're not going to build anymore nursing home beds."

He said this was a way of saying they will give people more support in the home. Denmark has a lot of housing options and community-based care.

Lewis described Canada's home care system as "spotty."

For example, the home care system will cover someone who is sick and then discharged from the hospital, he said, but the frail and elderly don't receive as much attention.

"It's a bit of a poker game."

If family lives nearby and is willing to help the older person, Lewis said, the system will work for that person. But he said relying too much on family can lead them to burn out. 

Lewis wants to see public assistance for daily activities, such as shoveling a walkway. 

He also pointed out the high costs of institutional homes. He said 25 years ago there was a standard fee. Now, people are paying up to $3,500 a month for a nursing home in Canada. 

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