I read the editorial in the Citizen-Record on health care for the elderly and I feel have to rebut it. The article likened the budget for health care to a basket and the suggestion was that the government is putting too much money into home care and cutting long term care funding.
The editorial goes on to make the point that because everyone who lives long enough will require long-term care that that sector should get the most support.
First and foremost, home care was not and is not supposed to replace long-term care. There are three levels of institutional care: Level one, Level two and Level three. Level 3 is the long-term care.
Home care is designed to replace Level 1 and Level 2 care.Home care is able to do this and save the government big bucks on institutional care.
The further assumption in this article is that at some stage in our life we will all be in a long-term care facility. This is probably right for a great part of us, but not all. My mother looked after her father long after he could have been put in a long-term facility.
I have no doubt that that there are a number of elderly who with a helping hand from home care can do, and are doing the same. These people need support, such as with things like being able to get their relatives looked after for a day, or a week or two. They should be able to book them into a Level 3 facility for the short term while they take a vacation or a much-needed break.
If we live into our 80s or 90s, our children are long retired, and some, if they can get help, will do their part.
People who are put into short-term care deteriorate much faster than people who are able to be maintained in their own homes. This means they arrive into long-term care faster and spend much longer in these places.
Ideally, Level 3 facilities would be a short stay before being moved to a palliative care facility. Their stay should be measured in months and not years.
We have a group in Amherst who are trying to raise enough funds so that people can die with dignity and not on a stretcher in the hall of some emergency ward.
Perhaps the business community will be forthcoming with some support. As for myself, I am a member and will be buying the Toonie Draw fundraiser. The palliative care society of Amherst is running this to help fund a new palliative care facility.
Money is better spent on home care, which provides a better quality of life than seeing that more people spend more time in long term facilities. If the government is really preventing long-term care from performing the service that we need, then they should stop doing that. We still need a certain level of long term care. Long term care should not, however, be getting the bulk of the financing, but should benefit from the cost savings of home care.
Walter Jones column appears weekly in the Amherst News