A new vision for how seniors are cared for in B.C. is needed, says the chief executive officer of the B.C. Care Providers Association.
Daniel Fontaine says his association is advocating for establishment of what he calls ‘care hubs’ across the province.
The idea is being discussed Friday at a public forum in Kelowna titled Creating Communities of Care.
The forum brings together leaders from the seniors’ care sector, public transportation, non-profit housing, health authorities, First Nations and municipal governments, planners and the B.C. Ministry of Health for a dialogue on how to re-imagine how seniors’ care is integrated into B.C.’s cities and towns.
“In towns and cities across B.C. today, seniors’ care homes are too often located on the fringes of communities, cut off from amenities and services which might be used by seniors in care and other members of the public,” said Fontaine.
“Now let’s imagine communities where our elderly population form the heart of bustling communities, with transportation and services in place to better connect seniors and their family members. This is the goal of this innovative dialogue— to establish more care hubs across B.C.”
Social isolation is just one of many challenges seniors face that causes health impacts and preventable burden to our health care system, Fontaine says.
The care hub philosophy, he says, will help to keep families and loved ones better connected, happier and healthier as our population ages.
“It is forecasted that Canada’s median age will increase over the next 15 years where up to one-quarter of all Canadians will be over the age of 65,” Fontaine said.
“A dialogue is needed today to prepare our big cities, suburban neighbourhoods, and rural communities for the stresses of an aging society by improving mobility, housing availability, and access to needed services. This dialogue will be as much about seniors and their families, as it will be about the workers who support them.”
While the notion of a care hub is not intended to be prescriptive, Fontaine says there is one central factor—senior care homes acts as the centre for the delivery of a wide range of services.
He says a care hub may exist as a campus of care or be managed in collaboration by a network of care homes. In some cases, services are co-located, but in other instances they may exist separately as part of a formal integrated network.
Fontaine says what would define a care hub in a given community or region is limited only by creativity.
Care hub services may include medical and health services—such as primary care, chronic disease management, rehabilitation, sub-acute care —along with non-medical supports such as adult day/night programs, non-profit services, and amenities available to the general public such as restaurants, daycare, theatre pubs, senior-friendly transit options and senior drop-in centres.
Fontaine says some models may even integrate on-site housing for workers.
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