Change needed in home care focus of public talk

We’ve all heard the stories about the crisis Canada is facing in caring for its aging population.

  • Hospitals where there are long wait lists for non-urgent surgeries because too many beds are taken up by elderly patients who can’t go home because they don’t have the support they need.
  • Older adults who want to stay in their own homes, but can’t get the level of help they need from outside agencies and are forced to move into a care facility against their wishes.
  • Family members who are struggling to help aging relatives with their care needs and experiencing frustration, exhaustion and their own health and emotional problems.

The list goes on, and the situation is arguably getting worse as the number of older adults who need some sort of assistance with their daily living needs and healthcare continues to grow. 

While there has been plenty of discussion and debate among politicians, public servants, healthcare providers and the general population about how to effectively and compassionately handle the needs of older adults, the bottom line is, without the necessary planning and funding to allow more people to be cared for at home, Canada’s health and social systems will continue to struggle. These struggles will only get worse as the system tries to cope with a population where the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to double in the next 20 years.

So what should Canada do? A former minister of health from Quebec who has spent much of his life studying and working in the field of caring for an aging population, is coming to McMaster University to offer his views on how we can better provide home care for older adults.

Réjean Hébert, who served as Minister of Health and Social Services in the National Assembly of Quebec from 2012 until earlier this year, and who was the founding scientific director of the Institute of Aging at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, will give a public talk on October 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, at McMaster Innovation Park on Longwood Road.

Entitled No Home Care Priority without Appropriate Financing: Canada has to Move, Hébert’s talk will draw on insights from his extensive research and recent political experience to discuss the need for governments to find a way to finance home care and to ensure older adults have access to a variety of options for appropriate types of care, when they need it.

Following the presentation, McMaster’s Parminder Raina, who holds the Raymond and Margaret Labarge Chair in Research and Knowledge Application for Optimal Aging, will comment on Hébert’s ideas, then accept questions from the audience, before wrapping up at 8:30 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to attend the event, and it will be streamed live on the internet for those who cannot be there in person (click here to access). The McMaster Innovation Park is at 175 Longwood Road South. Free parking is available.

Hébert was one of the first geriatricians in Quebec, and was the founding Director of the Research Centre on Aging in Sherbrooke and the Quebec Research Network on Aging. He was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Université de Sherbrooke from 2004-2010 and continues there as a professor and researcher at the Research Centre of Aging. In addition to being minister of health and social services in Quebec, he was also minister responsible for seniors. 

Hébert has led several important initiatives to improve the care of older adults, including directing a unique consortium of researchers, healthcare managers and policymakers working on the organization of services for frail older adults. He also received a Honoris Causa Doctorate from the Université de Moncton to acknowledge his leadership in developing the full medical training for francophones in New Brunswick.

The public talk has been organized by the McMaster Health Forum as part of its knowledge translation enterprise funded by the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative, and is presented in collaboration with the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres.