Access to Timely and Appropriate Care for Community-Dwelling Older Adults in Ontario
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- Evelyne Guay (University of Ottawa)
- Misha Dhuper (University of Toronto)
- Sara Trincao-Batra (University of Ottawa)
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on several inequalities facing older adults in Ontario. Aside from the Long-Term Care (LTC) crisis, older adults in the community are also facing significant challenges. Namely, older adults living in the community are finding it challenging to access appropriate and timely care. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has recognized these challenges and advised that “critical investments must be made now to deliver more effective, accessible care for seniors.” The need for accessible care in the community is especially pertinent given that an overwhelming majority of seniors in Ontario want to age at home or in the community, as opposed to in long-term care. According to Home Care Ontario, “one of the most significant and least desirable outcomes for a community-dwelling senior is to be prematurely institutionalized because of the lack of home and community care-based health and social support options.” Given these factors, combined with the current LTC crisis and lengthy wait times for LTC admission, the dire need to improve supports for older adults aging in place is evident.
The Ontario Medical Students Association makes its recommendations using the following guiding principles:
- Older adults deserve access to adequate support and services to help them age successfully in place.
- A multidisciplinary approach is critical to provide older adults with holistic and appropriate care.
- Older adults in the community should have timely and appropriate access to virtual healthcare to promote successful aging in place.
- As front-line providers of care, physicians should receive adequate support and training in the delivery of virtual care.
- That the Ontario government should implement permanent virtual care solutions, including reducing logistical barriers (via permanent billing codes and insurance), continuous quality improvements to the virtual infrastructure (by accounting for patient and physician experience), and specialized training in the delivery of effective virtual care for physicians and medical trainees.
- That the Ontario government and Local Health Integration Networks provide older adults with the appropriate funding, assistance and technology to enable receipt of virtual care.
- That Multidisciplinary/integrated healthcare should be emphasized as a key component of accessible and appropriate care for older adults to improve healthcare outcomes, reduce overall healthcare expenditure and support successful aging in place.