As I write this blog, it’s grey, cold, there is snow on the ground and many of us have just started our second round of Covid lockdown. Not much to be excited about, yet as we put one foot in front of the other, we need to appreciate how much we do have and how fortunate we are. Last week’s blog was titled ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ and I want to thank one of my favorite think tank organizations, National Institute on Aging (NIA), as they propose some ways for us to win this battle.
In the first wave of Covid-19, the virus was the winner and our family members living in Long Term Care were the losers. 81% of all deaths across Canada occurred in Long Term Care.
NIA has developed a proposal, titled “ Bringing Long-Term Care Home. A proposal to Create a Virtual Long-Term Care @Home Program to Support a More Cost-Effective and Sustainable Way to Provide Long-Term Care Across Ontario”. (Nov 2020)
It is a very detailed proposal with the underlying theme of:
- “Let more people stay at home for longer
- Better address the currently growing LTC home waitlists and
- Save considerable costs and create a more sustainable LTC system for Ontario.”
We all want to remain, live and die at home. However, “the demand of LTC homecare continues with wait lists climbing to over 38,000 individuals in 2019-2020 before the onset of the current COVID-19 pandemic.” We know that wait lists for admission into Long Term Care have “continued to climb by over 13,000 individuals from 19,615 individuals in 2011-12 and 32,773 individuals in 2017-18.” “In a 2020 report, CIHI noted that 1 in 12 (8%) of newly admitted LTC home residents in Ontario could instead have likely been cared for at home with the right supports in place.”
“Home care was estimated to cost $103 per day for an LTC home equivalent home care client, compared to $201 per day to support a person in a LTC home or $730 per day to support an ALC patient in hospital. The proposal documents that for ‘each bed NOT needed to be redeveloped or built would save the Ontario Ministry of Long Term Care between $212,259 and $268, 360.” It proposes that monies be directed to support these seniors in their own homes and a coordinated approach to care be delivered through the LHIN and Ontario Health Teams.
Additional supports at home include a “temporary home improvement tax credit for older Ontarians, called the Seniors Home Safety Tax Credit. Older persons would be eligible for the credit regardless of their income and whether or not they owe income tax for 2021. The $10,000 maximum in eligible expenses would apply per principal residence and could be shared among family members. The maximum credit would be worth $2,500 or 25% of up to $10,000 in eligible expenses which must relate to renovations that improve safety and accessibility or help an older person be more functional or mobile at home.”
In addition to a better quality of life, respecting our wishes to remain and home and by implementing a true aging at home concept, I certainly hope that along with the anticipated vaccine, providing additional funding to support our aging family members at home will hopefully shift the balance so that COVID loses ground and we can say finally that we are winning this pandemic battle.