Last January 2017 the Ontario government recognized that Seniors in Ontario are a growing force that needs to be better serviced and recognized and created its own stand alone Ministry, namely the Ministry of Senior Affairs. It has previously been housed within the Ministry of Infrastructure. Yes I thought they were strange bedfellows too. While Statistics Canada advises that there are more seniors over age 65 than children under 15 years of age, Ontario has recognized that within the next 25 years, the number of seniors in Ontario will double to 4.6 million.
So, last week, the Wynn government released: Aging With Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors: which I hope is the start of something wonderful.
It is an exciting announcement advising that the government will spend 550 Million$$ over 4 years for the building of 5,000 new Long Term Care beds and another $155 million over 3 years for community based services. In an attempt to support seniors at all ages, the Action Plan divides resource allocation into a few different areas.
Firstly, to all seniors, regardless of age and health status. These initiatives included things such as:
1. Free ‘high-does flu vaccines
2. One Stop Website: www.ontario.ca/agingwell or call 211
3. Better community transportation option
4. More age friendly communities- accessibility (Community Planning Grant)
5. Elder Abuse Prevention
6. Expansion of consumer protection
7. Strengthening elder abuse prevention (public education, service provider training, research and improved community response)
8. Provide education about powers of attorney (Ontario.ca/agingwell)
The second area is directed towards supporting seniors living independently in the community. These initiatives include funding for:
9. More senior active living centres (community hub provide social, recreational program)
10. More community engagement opportunities: funding more projects
11. Staying physically strong (active for life recreation stream under Ontario Sport and Rec Communities Fund)
12. Engaging seniors through arts programs
13. Helping seniors with technology – linking youth volunteers with seniors
14. Supporting seniors to become mentors- will fund 20-30 more projects
The third area is directed towards Supporting Seniors Requiring Enhanced Supports at Home. This includes:
15. Support for more naturally occurring retirement communities- providing more onsite support with focus on ethno-cultural services- OASIS model
16. Increasing access to in home health care- access to house calls.
17. Increased access to geriatric care- increasing training opportunities for health care providers and psw.
18. Providing more home care hours (PSW , nursing and pt)
19. Expanding seniors supportive housing new transitional care spaces (between hospital to home) and providing 200 new subsidies to access affordable housing
20. Increase support for caregivers: will provide a single point of access for information?
21. Making the quality of care more consistent: better consistency from region to region and better understand how need relates to hours provided.
22. Helping people with dementia- expanding programs (investing $100 million over 3 years)
23. Enhancing self-directed care- new- self directed care models –( new personal support services organization by 2018)
The last group is directed towards Supporting Seniors Requiring Intensive Supports. These include:
24. Modernizing long term care homes- eliminating 4 bed ward.
25. Reduce the wait time for LTC – will create 5,000 new beds by 2022 and will create 30,000 more over next decade
26. More staffing and support in LTC- increase in nursing hours, PSW hours and specialized behaviourial training and end of life care. Increase to 4 hours PSW care daily
27. Promoting innovation- virtual consultation?
28. Culturally appropriate LTC (meals and language)
29. Strengthening safety in LTC
30. Strengthen office of the OPGT
31. Improved end of life care- more hospice beds closer to home
Some great initiatives ahead. There are many that I am excited to learn more about. Let’s see how things unfold….