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e-Panel Survey Summary

National Seniors Strategy

Synopsis

The CMA surveyed e-Panel members to learn more about their views on the status of seniors care in Canada and what the priorities for a national strategy for seniors should be. The results provide a picture of the impact of the aging population on physicians and the health care system, as well as recommendations for improvements to seniors care. A summary of the results of the e-Panel survey is presented below.

Survey – February 2015

The survey was sent to 4,232 e-Panel members; 852 responded, for a response rate of 20%.

Results

Survey results indicate that the aging population poses a significant challenge to physicians and the health care system, with large amounts of time and resources being spent on seniors’ care. Specifically, 37% of respondents spend more than half of their clinical time caring for seniors, and the majority spends time trying to secure support services for these patients. Furthermore, 63% of respondents feel that the health care system is very unprepared to deal with the increasing population of seniors, although only 12% said they were personally very unprepared.

Access to Services for Seniors

It is clear that there is low accessibility for many services related to the care of seniors. The services ranked as the least accessible were:
  • Long Term Care (76% ranked it as difficult or very difficult to access)
  • Respite Care (66% ranked it as difficult or very difficult to access)
  • Home care (43% ranked it as difficult or very difficult to access)
  • Prevention and wellness (42% ranked it difficult or very difficult to access)

However, respondents also said that some services offer greater accessibility for seniors. The services ranked as the most accessible were:

  • Hospital care (72% ranked it as readily accessible or accessible)
  • Primary care (64% ranked it as readily accessible or accessible)
  • Community supports (62% ranked them as readily accessible or accessible)
  • Palliative care (55% ranked it as readily accessible or accessible)

Tools and Resources to Support an Ageing Population

There were a variety of tools and resources suggested by e-panel respondents that would improve the care of seniors. Tools and resources not mentioned elsewhere in the survey included:
  • Technology such as electronic health records, telehealth, home monitoring, de-prescribing tools, and tools to manage mental decline
  • Risk stratification tools to aid in determining what is realistic for seniors care
  • More time and staff to support the care of seniors
  • Better connection to and awareness of community resources
  • Seniors navigators or care coordinators
  • Increased focus on preventative care

Top CMA Actions for a National Seniors Strategy

Respondents were asked about the top 5 issues that should be prioritized by the CMA in a national strategy for seniors. The following actions were most popular:

  • Support for aging at home (57%)
  • Support for families and caregivers (55%)
  • Innovative models for assisted living in care homes (47%)
  • Dementia strategy (43%)
  • Access/funding for LTC (37%)

Additional Areas for Action

Finally, respondents were asked to identify other priority issues for a national strategy for seniors. E-panel respondents identified a need for:

  • Recognizing the diversity of seniors and creating strategies to reduce ageism
  • More geriatric specialists and improved integration with primary care
  • Support for seniors who face extra challenges such as a low income, cognitive difficulties, impaired mobility, and lack of social support
  • Savings vehicles for health care needs not covered by medicare, including a national pharmacare strategy
  • Age-friendly communities
  • Strategies to discuss and plan for end of life care

Next Steps

The results of the e-panel survey were presented to CMA’s Physician Advisory Panel for a National Seniors Strategy. The results were reviewed by this group and helped to inform their discussions about how physicians can support, and what tools/training they require to facilitate improved seniors care.

 

At General Council in August there will be further discussion of these issues. On Sunday August 23rd there will be a workshop session to further refine the physician role in a National seniors strategy as well as identifying potential actions for the CMA. These results will feed into a strategic session on Monday August 24th.

 

Respondents told us

“As an ER doctor, the elderly patient that I dread is the one who is not sick enough to require an acute medical bed but unsafe to go home because they are unable to care for themselves, because it is next to impossible to set up other options for them. There are so many frail elderly people out there who are one trivial fall away from being unable to care for themselves.”

“Seniors cannot be grouped together. There are frail seniors who have very different needs and have the most difficulty accessing any of these services. Can we please use updated views of seniors and stop grouping them as one homogenous mass? Imagine if we took the same approach regarding non-seniors (regardless of comorbidities, mental health, pediatric).”

“Support for families and caregivers is important, as is navigation assistance/seamless transitions through the health care system. It would be even better to develop the system so it is simple enough and friendly enough not to require much assistance to navigate.”

“I’m sorry, but I just find it to be a new sickness we as society have: not understanding that we don’t have the cure for death…Let’s stop very aggressive medical management of frail/demented seniors. And families shouldn’t have the right to demand we ‘do everything’.”