Ottawa, like the rest of Canada, is getting older. Nationally, Statistics Canada found that between 1981 and 2005, seniors, defined as people over 65 years of age, rose from 9.6 to 13.1 per cent of the population.1 Between 1996 and 2006, the population of seniors in Ottawa rose from 49,445 to 100,875.2
Over the next 50 years, Canada is going to get much older, due to the aging of the Baby Boomers.3 In this paper, we examine how long-term care homes in Ottawa are preparing for explosive growth in the senior population.
To find out how these homes are preparing, the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada sent a survey to all long-term care homes in Ottawa.4 Twenty-fi ve surveys were distributed and 12 were returned, for a completion rate of 48 per cent. This is therefore a local snapshot only; it cannot be extrapolated to represent a larger geographical area due to the small sample size.
Ottawa long-term care homes revealed several common concerns, which this paper will explore. These include:
- the expectation of higher demands from Baby Boomers for care
- more complicated diagnoses requiring diverse care
- the need for more staff
- the difficulties of operating within the limits of Ministry of Health and Long-term Care funding levels, even as funding increases at an astounding rate from year to year
As a result of our survey, we recommend the following:
- Individuals and families should consider local homecare options
- Colleges and universities across the country should prepare to increase the available space in their nursing (R.N. and R.P.N.) programs; nursing students should be encouraged to specialize in geriatrics
- Persons engaged in the lives of young people should encourage them to consider how their career options can be addressed to seniors
- Families, wherever possible, should continue to be part of their loved one’s life
- Schools could be encouraged to engage in regular interaction with local seniors’ centres
- Families who are far away from parents or grandparents could consider having children “adopt” a grandparent in a local long-term care facility
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