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Speech of Colin Hansen at the 7th China International Senior Services Expo

Date:2018-06-11 09:00:00

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In terms of geographic size, Canada and China are about the same.  Size of the populations, on the other hand, is very different with Canada having only 36 million people compared to China’s 1.4 billion.

One similarity the two countries do have is a rapidly aging population and the need to develop new ways to ensure that our seniors can be properly cared for.  Those over age 65 account for 16.1% of Canadians compared to about 9.6% for China.  By 2036, seniors will be 25% of the population. Not only are there more Canadian turning 65 years old, but life expectancy, currently 80.3 years for men and 84.4 years for women, is getting greater every year.

The number of older seniors is also growing significantly.  In the past 20 years, those over 85 years grew by 127% and in the next 20 years, that number will double again.  The fastest growing age group is those over 100 years.

Governments in Canada began to take a major responsibility for seniors’ care in the 1950’s.  Prior to that, seniors were typically cared for by families or by churches or other non-government agencies.  The 1950’s saw the start of government funded programs such as pensions, hospital care, doctor’s care and nursing homes.

Income Support: All seniors are eligible for income support from the national government. Every Canadian over 65 years can receive “Old Age Security” of about $600 per month and low income seniors can receive up to an additional $800 per month for the “Guaranteed Income Supplement”.

Staying in their own homes: Surveys show that the vast majority of seniors want to stay in their own homes as long as possible.  Government provides funding for some seniors to receive home support, whereby care givers will visit the home to assist with their needs.  Government will also provide property tax deferrals, grants for home renovations and other programs to allow seniors to remain in their homes longer.  In addition, adult day programs are encouraged where seniors are picked up at their home and transported to community centres for social, recreational and health care programs.

Seniors Housing:  The descriptions and the terminology for seniors housing differs from province to province, but generally, there are five types of seniors housing in Canada.

Independent Living is an option for active, healthy seniors who can no longer manage in the family home.  These are typically modern apartments that are designed with seniors in mind.  They do not usually come with direct government funding but rent subsidies are available in most provinces to all low income seniors.

Assisted Living consists of one or two bedroom apartments for seniors who need help with daily tasks.  Meals and recreational programs are provided.  The senior will typically pay a maximum of 70% of their after-tax income and government will subsidize the rest.

Long-term (or Residential) Care is for seniors who require 24 hour care.  These facilities have full-time nursing staff and other care providers.  For most parts of Canada, the senior will typically pay not more than 80% of their after-tax income.

Dementia (or Memory) Care is very specialized care for those with cognitive impairment.  These units are usually in a secure section of an assisted living or long-term care facility and have specialized nursing staff and supports.

Just less than three quarters of seniors live in detached or semi-detached houses.  About 20% live in private apartments including the independent living model. About 3% are in assisted living and 4% in long-term care.

Care Providers: The most important element of care for seniors is not the buildings but rather it is the care providers. Education for these workers is provided by both public and private sector colleges. Canada has developed robust, government approved curriculum for its health care training programs that are being used around the world.

The staff that work in seniors facilities include:

- Care Aides – at least 6 months of training

- Licensed Practical Nurses – at least 1 year of training

- Registered Nurses – at least 3 years of training

- Nurse Practitioners – typically 6 years of training

Best Practices:  Canada has also been a leader in developing best practices for seniors care. This includes a regime of regulations that drive best outcomes (as opposed to the “prescriptive” approach that dictates thing like the design of windows). Chronic disease management has been pioneered in parts of Canada with an aim to prevent chronic diseases from getting worse. Over medicating seniors can diminish their enjoyment of life so medication management has been carefully studied to ensure best outcomes. We know that falls are a leading cause of premature death so Injury prevention has also been carefully researched.

Canadian Companies Can Help: Whether it is architecture and design, curriculum and training, best practices or new technologies, Canadian companies have world-class expertise in ensuring that our seniors get the best possible care as they age.

Topic: Caring for seniors: The Canadian model

Presentation by Colin Hansen to CISSE 2018, May 9, 2018

In terms of geographic size, Canada and China are about the same.  Size of the populations, on the other hand, is very different with Canada having only 36 million people compared to China’s 1.4 billion.

One similarity the two countries do have is a rapidly aging population and the need to develop new ways to ensure that our seniors can be properly cared for.  Those over age 65 account for 16.1% of Canadians compared to about 9.6% for China.  By 2036, seniors will be 25% of the population. Not only are there more Canadian turning 65 years old, but life expectancy, currently 80.3 years for men and 84.4 years for women, is getting greater every year.

The number of older seniors is also growing significantly.  In the past 20 years, those over 85 years grew by 127% and in the next 20 years, that number will double again.  The fastest growing age group is those over 100 years.

Governments in Canada began to take a major responsibility for seniors’ care in the 1950’s.  Prior to that, seniors were typically cared for by families or by churches or other non-government agencies.  The 1950’s saw the start of government funded programs such as pensions, hospital care, doctor’s care and nursing homes.

Income Support: All seniors are eligible for income support from the national government. Every Canadian over 65 years can receive “Old Age Security” of about $600 per month and low income seniors can receive up to an additional $800 per month for the “Guaranteed Income Supplement”.

Staying in their own homes: Surveys show that the vast majority of seniors want to stay in their own homes as long as possible.  Government provides funding for some seniors to receive home support, whereby care givers will visit the home to assist with their needs.  Government will also provide property tax deferrals, grants for home renovations and other programs to allow seniors to remain in their homes longer.  In addition, adult day programs are encouraged where seniors are picked up at their home and transported to community centres for social, recreational and health care programs.

Seniors Housing:  The descriptions and the terminology for seniors housing differs from province to province, but generally, there are five types of seniors housing in Canada.

Independent Living is an option for active, healthy seniors who can no longer manage in the family home.  These are typically modern apartments that are designed with seniors in mind.  They do not usually come with direct government funding but rent subsidies are available in most provinces to all low income seniors.

Assisted Living consists of one or two bedroom apartments for seniors who need help with daily tasks.  Meals and recreational programs are provided.  The senior will typically pay a maximum of 70% of their after-tax income and government will subsidize the rest.

Long-term (or Residential) Care is for seniors who require 24 hour care.  These facilities have full-time nursing staff and other care providers.  For most parts of Canada, the senior will typically pay not more than 80% of their after-tax income.

Dementia (or Memory) Care is very specialized care for those with cognitive impairment.  These units are usually in a secure section of an assisted living or long-term care facility and have specialized nursing staff and supports.

Just less than three quarters of seniors live in detached or semi-detached houses.  About 20% live in private apartments including the independent living model. About 3% are in assisted living and 4% in long-term care.

Care Providers: The most important element of care for seniors is not the buildings but rather it is the care providers. Education for these workers is provided by both public and private sector colleges. Canada has developed robust, government approved curriculum for its health care training programs that are being used around the world.

The staff that work in seniors facilities include:

- Care Aides – at least 6 months of training

- Licensed Practical Nurses – at least 1 year of training

- Registered Nurses – at least 3 years of training

- Nurse Practitioners – typically 6 years of training

Best Practices:  Canada has also been a leader in developing best practices for seniors care. This includes a regime of regulations that drive best outcomes (as opposed to the “prescriptive” approach that dictates thing like the design of windows). Chronic disease management has been pioneered in parts of Canada with an aim to prevent chronic diseases from getting worse. Over medicating seniors can diminish their enjoyment of life so medication management has been carefully studied to ensure best outcomes. We know that falls are a leading cause of premature death so Injury prevention has also been carefully researched.

Canadian Companies Can Help: Whether it is architecture and design, curriculum and training, best practices or new technologies, Canadian companies have world-class expertise in ensuring that our seniors get the best possible care as they age.