The Current

Geriatricians call for controversial change to health care for seniors

As Canada's over-65 population grows ever more dominant, a growing chorus of health care workers is pushing new attitudes in caring for people whose age complicates their medical conditions. They say they can save the system money while providing superior care and they want politicians to follow their lead.
Geriatricians say status quo isn't working for seniors and their health needs and it's time for a radical change in the way we treat the frail elderly. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)
" I don't know if you've ever been in a long term care home - they're like hospital warehouses for humans - so, this is the time for "let's learn faster, let's fail faster, let's figure out how to do this better."- Dr. Robyn Tamblyn, health care policy expert 

With the federal election campaign moving into fever pitch this week -- we're focusing on an issue Canadian voters consistently rank as a top priority ... but one you may not be hearing a lot about on the campaign trail.

Health Care. 

Many aspects of our system come under provincial jurisdiction, but it's all under federal leadership. And as nearly anyone navigating the Health Care system can attest --  many aspects of it in dire need of discussion, and action. 

And there are growing calls across Canada for a wholesale change in the way we look at providing medical care for the elderly. 

Dr. Paige Moorhouse and Dr. Laurie Mallery are co-founders of Palliative and Therapeutic Harmonization or PATH - a care program in Halifax for the frail elderly. They're both geriatricians in Halifax.

Julia Creighton was part of the program with her mother. She was in Chester, Nova Scotia. 

From calls to re-think the way we care for the elderly ... to the practical business of changing the way health care workers are actually trained to deal with older patients.

The Canadian Medical Association predicts that, by the year 2036, fully 62 per cent of health budgets in Canada will be spent on the elderly. Yet, advocates say the training these health care workers will need, just isn't keeping up. 

The University of British Columbia has just launched a new Master of Health Leadership and Policy in Seniors Care degree. Jennifer Baumbusch is an Associate Professor at UBC's School of Nursing in Vancouver.

More segments looking at Canadian health care

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What has your experience been with health care for seniors? Do you think workers need more specific training? Should we be aiming for fewer interventions... or does that worry you? 

You can comment on our Facebook page or on Twitter we're @thecurrentcbc. And as always you can send us an email.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath.

What if we could see what our health care system does in a single day? How would we feel? Check out CBC TV's new series, Keeping Canada Alive.