The plight of the increasing number of seniors stuck in acute care hospitals with nowhere to go, where their social, recreational and cultural needs are not met has received much publicity. Many more seniors are not in the public spotlight because they are at home or in seniors’ lodges or homes, but are also waiting for the long-term care they need. This neglect of seniors is a direct result of the anti-social offensive and neo-liberal agenda of privatization and forcing the people to fend for themselves. In particular, it is a result of the attempt by governments to replace long-term care with other forms of “continuing care.”
Under self-serving mantras such as “Aging in Place,” governments claim they are developing a progressive alternative to institutional care aimed at helping seniors to remain in their own homes. But facts show that the aim is to force seniors to fend for themselves, and to provide a “market” for the big global monopolies and private interests seeking private profit.
Home care and modern seniors’ homes must become part of the public health care system. Their purpose should be to provide support for seniors who are able and who wish to live at home or with limited supports. In no way are they a substitute for long-term care.
The current population of seniors in long-term care is older and has more complex medical conditions than in the past, as people are remaining in their homes longer. More than 60 per cent of seniors in long-term care have a form of dementia. Yet the number of trained skilled health professionals involved in their care has decreased. Many seniors whose needs can be best met in long-term care are instead in “assisted living” facilities. Not only is the care they receive very limited, but they must pay the cost of medications, medical supplies and many essential services, even help getting to the dining room for dinner or for a second bath per week.
Governments are encouraging and subsidizing private interests, especially big private monopolies to take over this sector. When private profit becomes the motive, seniors become “clients” and every interaction between caregivers and seniors is “costed” and can be given a dollar value. This kind of model is even being introduced in publicly owned and administered long-term care.
The aim of private interests and global monopolies to amass private wealth is clashing with the need and demand for modern, human-centred seniors’ care where social love can flourish between seniors and their caregivers and the rights of both are upheld.
Significant new investments are needed in long-term care in order to guarantee the right to a dignified living environment for residents and a quality working environment for staff which recognizes the rights of both seniors and their caregivers. National funding must ensure that no funding is directed to new facilities whose motive is private profit, and that the national strategy is designed to gradually eliminate private profit from every facet of seniors’ care.