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The future for long-term care looks grim: Mass privatization

Photo: LOLren
As with hospital beds, the government and other proponents of  the near freeze in new long-term care beds suggest that home care can take up the slack.

Does this stand up?  Well, let's take even a very aggressive version of this theory.  Say that 25% of all people in LTC could be dealt with through home care.   (Currently, that would mean evicting 19,250 LTC residents, which is hardly realistic!)

As noted in the previous post, the demographics of the province are rapidly changing, with huge growth in the elderly population, now and into the years ahead.

A 2011 study the Conference Board concludes "based on Statistics Canada‘s reported utilization rate by age and the Government of Ontario‘s population projection, it is estimated that by 2035—when boomers are 71 to 89 years old— 238,000 Ontarians will be in need of long-term care."  That is 161,000 more than the 77,000 LTC beds existing now.  

If we somehow can subtract 25% from 238,000 we still need 178,500 LTC beds.  That's 101,500 more beds than now.   If we assume that the wait list gets worse than the  current 19,000 person wait list-- to say 25,000 -- we still need 153,500 beds.  That is 76,500 more beds than the current 77,000.

In other words, even giving these generous assumptions to our opponents, we would still need to build, on average, 3,326 new beds each year until 2035 (76,500 beds / 23 years).

Over the last seven years we have averaged about 319 beds per year.

In other words we still have to increase the rate of new LTC bed creation by 1042% (3,326 / 319).

Barring that, we are going to face mass privatization and private provision of long-term care, as the elderly are forced into other options like retirement homes.

And that for a health care sub-sector that is particularly ill-suited to private payment or private insurance.

Comments

  1. A pretty good example of what this policy will mean was illustrated today in an Ottawa Citizen article on the pressure being placed on one elderly hospital patient to move to a private retirement home. See http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Daughter+fights+Ottawa+Hospital+plans+discharge+ailing/7767363/story.html

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