“Our healthcare system was designed in different times for different people,” says Stacey Daub, CEO of the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). “Now we have a population with chronic diseases and a population that is living longer. We need services that are very different, and the system is trying to catch up to that.”

Almost 15 percent of Canada’s population is currently comprised of adults over 65, and by 2036 seniors will represent almost 25 percent of the population. Hospitals and long-term care facilities are often the answer to the health needs of Canada’s elders, but these expensive institutions can fail to deliver the independence and quality of life older adults desire as they age, both socially and economically. Seniors want to continue living at home as long as possible, and be able to access care for the health conditions that accompany aging. But how?

The benefits of better care

Home healthcare is one answer: it encourages elder-friendly communities that respect the preferences of older adults to continue living at home as they age, increases their independence, and reduces the prevalence of social isolation. It also helps to reduce caregiver stress while providing services—both medical and non-medical—more quickly and efficiently for the individual.

“A mix of private home healthcare and publicly funded home healthcare is the way of the future.”

Recent studies show that about 40 percent of people destined to go into pricey institutions can be maintained at home, and that the latter is of greater benefit to seniors’ physical and mental health in the long run. While aging at home is often perceived as an option only for the wealthy, it is actually more cost-effective in many cases: the cost of homecare services for one day averages out to $55, compared to $1000/day for a hospital bed or at least $130/day for a long-term care facility.

Way of the future

“A mix of private home healthcare and publicly funded home healthcare is the way of the future,” says Mary Ann Freedman, a leader in the community who has spent the last 15 years working with organizations serving the 50-plus community. 

If one qualifies, public funding covers about a quarter of a senior’s needs and can be accessed through organizations like the CCAC that help people navigate the healthcare system and connect them with healthcare services in their community.  The remainder is typically subsidized by family, friends or personal funds in the form of private home healthcare services.