Call­ing for stronger se­nior care

Ad­vo­cate says more than brick and mor­tar so­lu­tions needed when it comes to fa­cil­i­ties

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced a slew of ini­tia­tives – and touted cap­i­tal projects al­ready in progress – aimed at se­niors last month, and while some are pleased with the progress, oth­ers feel the plans do not go far enough.

The Ad­vo­cates for Se­nior Ci­ti­zens Rights handed over a pe­ti­tion with some 6,500 sig­na­tures to NDP leader Lor­raine Michael and in­de­pen­dent Mount Pear­lSouth­lands MHA Paul Lane at Con­fed­er­a­tion build­ing, Nov. 5, push­ing for the im­proved care of pa­tients liv­ing in long-term care fa­cil­i­ties.

The aim is to seek the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Lil­lian’s Law, which calls for a min­i­mum 3-1 res­i­dent to staff ra­tio at longterm fa­cil­i­ties.

The pro­posed law is named af­ter the mother of founder Sharon Gould­ing-Collins, who is cur­rently in a long-term care fa­cil­ity in Gan­der. Gould­ingCollins took up the cause of try­ing to im­prove se­nior care af­ter notic­ing her mother had been scratched and bruised as a re­sult of fall­ing and al­ter­ca­tions.

She says there needs to be more than a brick and mor­tar ap­proach to care when it comes to fa­cil­i­ties.

“It has to be more than about adding beds,” she said. “It’s about pro­vid­ing a qual­ity of liv­ing.”

In the an­nounce­ment, re­leased Oct. 29, the De­part­ment of Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices re­it­er­ated its in­vest­ment of four new long-term care fa­cil­i­ties in New­found­land, and an ex­pan­sion of the pro­tec­tive care unit in Bot­wood.

But Gould­ing-Collins says the care of pa­tients is just as im­por­tant as adding beds, and that Lil­lian’s Law could help pro­vide bal­ance, as it would al­low for bet­ter care, to as­sist with falls, hy­giene, and in­ter­ven­tion in the event of al­ter­ca­tions.

Home longer

Be­yond the in­sti­tu­tions un­der con­struc­tion, the health de­part­ment an­nounced pro­gram­ming aimed at keep­ing se­niors in their homes longer. These in­clude the es­tab­lish­ment of re­gional health au­thor­ity net­works, needs as­sess­ments, de­vel­op­ing res­i­den­tial hospice care ser­vices, and look­ing into the needs for per­sonal care home beds. The prov­ince is also work­ing on a home de­men­tia pro­gram, along with hav­ing a fi­nan­cial assess­ment process for those en­ter­ing longterm care.

More than 19 per cent of the prov­ince’s pop­u­la­tion is over the age of 65. Within the next 10 years, the prov­ince es­ti­mated that num­ber will grow to 27 per cent.

With an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion on the rise, Delores Jones, NL 50+ Fed­er­a­tion direc­tor for Area 5 – Gan­der – Fogo Is­land, said the prov­ince has a big task in try­ing to de­velop se­nior care.

While she agrees with help­ing se­niors to stay in their own homes longer, her ad­vice to both the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is to make it af­ford­able.

“Se­niors that have been re­tired for a num­ber of years, their pen­sions haven’t been ad­justed to re­flect in­fla­tion,” she said. “Our oil bill has dou­bled over the last few years, but our in­come hasn’t dou­bled. So you have to cut cor­ners some­where.”

Hav­ing to bal­ance bills and med­i­ca­tion, without an ad­di­tional in­come sup­port, Jones said, could push se­niors into long-term care faster.

“You have to make sure they have suf­fi­cient funds to meet their daily needs.”

CON­TRIBUTED

Sharon Gould­ing-Collins, founder of the Ad­vo­cates for Se­nior Ci­ti­zens Rights, cen­ter, brought a pe­ti­tion with some 6,500 sig­na­tures to the Con­fed­er­a­tion build­ing Mon­day, Nov. 5, ad­vo­cat­ing for stronger se­nior care. She pre­sented the pe­ti­tion to NDP leader Lor­raine Michael, right, and in­de­pen­dent Mount Pearl-South­lands MHA Paul Lane.

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