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CMA seniors care strategy moves into new phase

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has begun a new phase in its work to develop a national strategy on seniors care as part of a broader process to better engage and seek input from grassroots members.

In conjunction with a meeting of the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) Representative Assembly, the CMA hosted a successful town hall meeting with SMA members to gather input on the most effective way for physicians to influence the design of seniors care strategies at all levels.

In introducing the meeting, Louis Hugo Francescutti, a past-president of the CMA, noted that “as the hype of the (federal) election winds down, the real work begins.

“We’re eager to get going on helping build a national seniors strategy. We can’t lose all that momentum we built during the campaign − we need to continue to push for federal leadership.”

Francescutti noted the successful public town hall on seniors care hosted in conjunction with the SMA during the federal election campaign as a “great example” of advocacy at the grassroots level.

“When we bring together physicians, patients and the public under one roof to speak on an issue, we’re a powerful combination – and hard to ignore,” he said.

SMA President Mark Brown noted that in Saskatchewan 14.4% of the population are aged 65 and older and another 27% are currently between the ages of 45-64 and are likely involved in the care of their aging parents, relatives or friends.

Francescutti and Brown were joined in facilitating the discussion by Dr. Jenny Basran, head of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and the province’s only geriatrician.

Physicians worked in small groups to identify issues and potential solutions for dealing with the growing aging population, with those in attendance voicing support for a team-based approach for seniors care but stressing the need for good communication between team members and with patients to ensure its success.

Adequate community-based resources for seniors care and health literacy were also raised as important issues.

At the national level, the CMA was encouraged to consider developing a charter of seniors rights, ensuring continuity of care across provinces, addressing the social determinants of health, and advocating for the inclusion of standards and measures tied to funding in a new Health Accord that would specifically address seniors care.

In his concluding remarks, Francescutti urged that those in attendance not consider the meeting a “one-off” event but stay involved with the CMA on seniors care and other important issues.

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