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Seniors care: “What we need now is some action”

There’s little doubt that members are on board with the CMA’s call for a national strategy to deal with the health care needs of Canada’s rapidly growing seniors population.

On Aug. 24, with near unanimity and little debate, General Council (GC) delegates approved four motions designed to help spell out the physician’s role in the development of a national seniors strategy.
The results delighted CMA President Chris Simpson. In his inaugural speech in 2014 he commented: “When we start to think about what we need to do [as a profession], and where we need to start, it becomes clear that seniors care is the paramount health care issue of our time … I would like to make the bold assertion that if we can improve the way we care for our seniors, we will go a long way to creating a high-performing health care system.”

Simpson, who introduced this year’s strategic session on the topic, said much has been achieved since last August, including development of a framework for a seniors care action plan and the launch of a website about that plan — demandaplan.ca. On Monday, delegates took the planning a step further by passing four motions dealing with seniors care and accepting (via consent agenda) six more — all without a vote.

The motions dealt with a broad range of topics.

One called on the CMA to support the development of guidelines and standards for the use of telemonitoring technology, an automated process for transmitting data on a patient’s health status from home.
Another cited the need for evidence-based hospital practices that “better meet seniors’ physical, cognitive and psychosocial needs,” while another called for improvements in tax incentives and financial supports available to those providing care to family members.

In explaining the need for the latter motion, Dr. Sarah Bates – who explained that she is caring for a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease – said the CMA has previously called for improved support for informal caregivers. She noted that more than 75% of care provided to older Canadians is delivered by unpaid, informal caregivers, a role that can be demanding financially.

Simpson described the motions that were passed as “thoughtful,” even though the themes are not new. He said action is being taken on several fronts, including attempts to make seniors care an issue in the upcoming federal election.

“What we need now is some action.”