By Jenn Watt
More attention and resources need to go into caring for the aging in this country, this province and this region.
There are now more Canadians over 65 than under 15, nearly 15 per cent of those have dementia or Alzheimer’s, and in Haliburton County the demographics are even more skewed with 28 per cent of us older than 65.
Health care of any kind is costly and as much as we want to provide everyone with all the support they need, no system is perfect.
However, last week our local MPP Laurie Scott sounded the alarm over long-term care beds and the government’s tardiness on a capacity study that would allocate beds into our LTC homes.
Her stats are convincing. In Queen’s Park last week, Scott told the legislature that Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock has 770 frail seniors on wait lists and that the Central East LHIN (of which Haliburton County is a part) “has the lowest ratio of supply versus demand for long-term care beds in the province.”
Haliburton Highlands Health Services CEO Varouj Eskedjian confirms that: the wait to get into Highland Wood in Haliburton is between 18 and 24 months; at Hyland Crest in Minden it is 10 to 16 months.
Eskedjian is eager to read the results of the study, which has been 12 years in the making.
(He also points out that caring for frail seniors means strong home support services, seniors housing and other home-care options.)
Very little in health care doesn’t seem urgent. We need every advance in technology, every extra dollar for staffing, every ounce of research time we can get to address a sea of wellness and illness concerns. But this – caring for the elderly in our population – is particularly pressing.
The Conservatives’ critic for long-term care Bill Walker notes that 15 per cent on LTC waitlists pass away before being placed in homes.
Responding to Scott’s criticisms, the Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care pointed out that the Liberals have created some 10,000 new spots since coming to office and that wait times have decreased 45 per cent in the last seven years.
We should celebrate that improvement, but it doesn’t mean we should be comfortable with how long it’s taking to find out about beds.
We don’t have time to wait – our elderly friends, family and neighbours need answers now.