Fresh Takes

Canadians Clamour for Home Care, Ottawa Offers Institutions

There tends to be a bit of a disconnect between what the people want, and what the government delivers.

Just look at long-term care. The federal government recently announced a brand new set of national standards for long-term care facilities throughout the country. That’s all well and good—there are a lot of horrendous long-term care institutions in this country—but it’s far from the only fix required.

When you ask Canadians, they’re not so much looking for better institutionalized care facilities, but rather for ways to avoid having to live out their golden years in such institutions.

Fully 92% of Canadians over the age of 45 said they favour aging at home over living in a long-term care facility, according to a 2022 Ipsos poll. And eight in ten people would only consider institutionalized care facilities if they couldn’t afford care in their own homes.

Yet our provincial and federal governments keep focusing almost exclusively on institutionalized care facilities.

In Canada, 82% of the money spent by governments and insurers on long-term care goes toward inpatient institutions. Only 11% goes to home-based care.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In Germany, for instance, 57% of funding for long-term care goes to home care.

That’s because Germany has adopted a model known-as “cash-for-care.” This type of model, quite common in Europe, gives the patient a choice between institutionalized care or regular cash payments to help fund their own home care arrangements.

Unsurprisingly, when given this choice—and financial support either way—many patients opt to stay in their homes, surrounded by their loved ones, rather than live in large government-run care facilities. It also helps that those cash payments can be used to compensate informal caregivers, easing some of the burden on the immediate family.

Improved standards for institutionalized care are surely good, but they don’t deliver what many Canadians have said they want: better access to home care.

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