SENIORCENTRIC NEWS WEEK ENDING Mar 27, 2021

Scanning the globe for news by, for and about Senior Citizens

Quotables:

It all has to do with early planning, communication with the families, and the employees. The leadership team was very huge in this – we have solid leadership team here. Our board of directors, they were extremely helpful from the onset of this pandemic, especially my board chair. She gave me the freedom to do whatever I needed to do.

Bernard Boreland CEO and Administrator Mariann Home in Richmond Hill, Ont. Lessons from the Ontario LTC home that’s had no COVID-19 cases among residents

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Nearly 75 per cent of Alberta’s most elderly now vaccinated against COVID-19

Vaccinations among oldest demographic already saving lives, expert says

The majority of Alberta’s oldest residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19, putting the province ahead of the national average for immunizations among the elderly.

About 74 per cent of Albertans aged 75 and older — the demographic group most vulnerable to the disease — have received COVID-19 vaccinations, Alberta Health confirmed.

As of Thursday, 184,977 Albertans in that age group have received at least one dose.

In the 65 to 74 age group, 88,896 people have been vaccinated, accounting for about  23 per cent of that age group, who began booking vaccinations on March 15.

Alberta began its vaccination campaign in December, first targeting high-risk populations that included residents of long-term care and designated supportive living facilities. Vaccination bookings were opened to the public last month.

Despite the promising trend, health experts say access to immunizations and vaccine hesitancy could remain barriers to establishing herd immunity. 

“This reflects the really strong focus that Alberta has put on immunizing older Albertans,” said Calgary-based pediatrician and infectious diseases specialist Dr. Jim Kellner. 

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Lessons from the Ontario LTC home that’s had no COVID-19 cases among residents

The human cost of the pandemic has been most devastating in long-term care (LTC) facilities, which have seen nearly 900,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 22,000 deaths across Canada.

But the Mariann Home in Richmond Hill, Ont. has been a happy exception, with no cases or deaths to date among its 64 residents.

Mariann CEO and Administrator Bernard Boreland has been credited with being quick off the mark in recognizing the seriousness of the outbreak well ahead of the decision in Ontario to lock down LTC facilities in March, 2020. By that point, he had already been stockpiling personal protective equipment for weeks, and had locked the facility’s doors on Feb. 28.

Speaking to CTV’s Your Morning on Friday, Boreland was quick to deflect credit for the moves.

“It all has to do with early planning, communication with the families, and the employees. The leadership team was very huge in this – we have solid leadership team here,” he said.

“Our board of directors, they were extremely helpful from the onset of this pandemic, especially my board chair. She gave me the freedom to do whatever I needed to do,” he added.

Boreland, who relied on his experience dealing with the SARS outbreak in 2003, got an early heads-up about the severity of the virus in January of last year from staff who had been vacationing in China.

Also key were decisions on staffing, including implementing a rule that his staff could only work at Mariann and not other facilities, and bringing part-time staff on full-time.

“The one thing that stuck out in my head and I used that initially was the single employer rule,” he said.

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NEWS

New study: Cost and demand for elder care to double in the next 10 years

Now is the time to re-imagine aging in Canada, says CMA 

As the first baby boomers reach their 75th birthday this year, a new study commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) estimates the cost and demand for elder care will nearly double by 2031. The analysis, Canada’s Elder Care Crisis: Addressing the Doubling Demand, conducted by Deloitte, estimates the demand for long-term care and home care over the next decade, and the costs to meet these care needs.

The report estimates that 606,000 patients will seek long-term care in 2031, up from 380,000 in 2019. For Canadians aging at home, the demand for home care will increase to roughly 1.8 million patients, up from nearly 1.2 million. This increase is projected to cost $490.6 billion over the next 10 years, with the annual price tag of elder care services growing from $29.7 billion per year in 2019 to $58.5 billion per year in 2031. 

“We know the pandemic has exposed major cracks in seniors’ care,” says Dr. Ann Collins, CMA president. “It is not hard to imagine what awaits them in the next decade with no plan in place to address a growing demand for care along with changing expectations for aging at home. Planning and investment by all governments should be underway today to cope with this unprecedented demographic shift and the disruption to our current model of institutional care.”

The study highlights potential solutions that could lower the cost of services, while also building better alignment with the needs of seniors, but it is quickly becoming clear that these measures alone will not adequately address the crisis in elder care, nor will they alter the trajectory of significantly increased funding needs. 

The study identified, for example, a downward trend in the use of long-term care by seniors. If that trend can be sustained by making better use of home care, 37,000 Canadians could be diverted from long-term care by 2031, saving the system an estimated $794 million per year. 

Further efficiencies can be found by moving patients who are currently in hospitals waiting to be transferred to other levels of care.  Moving these patients to more appropriate care settings could save an additional $1.4 billion per year by 2031. 

“Time is not on our side,” adds Dr. Collins. “Searching for efficiencies is always a valuable exercise, but we are beyond the point where tinkering around the edges will solve this problem. Our window of opportunity to re-set how we care for and support seniors is now.” 

The CMA is using this report to continue to press the federal government for new demographic-based annual funding to the provinces and territories to support improving elder care, as well as a pan-Canadian plan to improve elder care in Canada, including committing to working with the provinces and territories on new national standards for long-term care.

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Grade 3 students in Edmonton are making a connection the old fashioned way.

Students at Roberta MacAdams School have become pen pals with local seniors who may be feeling isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group of 50 students call themselves the “COVID Care Bears.”

Kaasha Withanachchi said she has had a lot of fun getting to know her pen pal, who she exchanges letters with every two weeks.

“She likes butterflies and she used to have a cat,” Withanachchi said. “I want to learn more about her. I was writing my next letter to her today.”

Teacher Ashley Elford said it has been a rewarding experience for both the students and seniors.

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