Thursday, 5 January 2012

Healthcare Endgame: Why we are failing ourselves and those before us.

I was recently introduced to the term : "Bed Blockers", while I watched a Global News special called 16:9. This term is used to label elderly Canadians who are left in a hospital bed while they await a spot in a long term care facility. These individuals are often mistreated indirectly as hospital staff become overwhelmed and are unable to attend to their constant need for attention.

You can watch the roughly twenty minute clip here if you want to see the reality of this term:

I was utterly shocked when I saw the mistreatment that went on in Canadian hospitals as a result of a lack of proper facilities. The elderly within our society not only represent those who came before us and helped build this country, but a portion of our population that is in need of our help in their vulnerable state. The treatment of those who require the most help within our society dictates how well we are doing as a society and if this term is any indication, we are in a lot of trouble.

It currently costs the Canadian government $1250.00 a day to house an elderly patient in a hospital bed, while a long term care facility costs roughly $100.00 dollars a day to do the same thing with more specific and efficient services to properly care for the individual.

There are currently 15,000 beds in this country that are being blocked as a result of elderly patients who are unable to stay home and are also waiting to gain entry into a long term care facility. With cut backs to in home services still occurring, the elderly population within our country are facing a harder and harder time trying to manage their own health. Not to mention the stress that is also added to a family when someone is no longer able to care for themselves at home and requires constant attention.

Let's do the math and see what kind of impact bed blockers are currently having on our healthcare system. If we have 15,000 individuals costing the state 1250.00 a day that equals $18,750,000 being spent daily to care for these individuals.

As alarming as this is, what scares me more is the response given to the Canadian people from both the provincial and federal government. Our provincial government is stating that everything is essentially on schedule, but that more work is to be done. Our federal government on the other hand under Mr. Harper have been stating how difficult it will be to maintain our current system due to the high demand put on us by our elderly citizens. This is the kind of misdirected reasoning that can lead to drastic cutbacks and cancellations, which will further put stress on the average and I.

Let's face it...our society has become overstressed with work and family life to the point where we cannot realistically care for our elderly family members. This horrible realization has become a question that every family now has to discuss. You call them grandma and grandpa, however society has labelled them a burden both financially and physically due to the extreme amount of attention required to care for them.

Everyone seems content with passing the issue along to someone else. The answer to our growing demand for senior care is not an easy one and is quite complicated, but what sickens me is how complacent we are with asking someone else to do something or do nothing at all because it seems like the easier solution. Ask yourself the next time your waiting for 6 hours to see a doctor how much money has been either cut back or budgeted, because the government and hospital administration cannot seem to properly target areas that need help or a redirection of funds.

In Canada, our provincial governments administer our health care and receive funding from the federal government. Currently, there are individuals within government who have attempted to have our federal government become more aware of this very expensive and devastating gray zone that has been created in our health care system. The government's response was simply that the provinces are the ones who must address these issues as they receive federal money to run their programs.

It has become evident that the average Canadian must now use their own actions to get something done. There is still a lot of hope available that will allow us to care for our elderly family members and still maintain this beautiful system we call socialized health care. Canada is known for being able to tackle tough problems and work hard for solutions, yet I feel that in recent years we have taken a more relaxed outlook on these problems and are dealing with symptoms and not the problems themselves. Our health care system can be sustainable and cutting back programs and privatizing is not the answer we need to provide the best coverage possible. We need our government to look at where our tax dollars are being spent and redirect them to provide the best support possible, which in this case is a need for more in home care and long term care facilities to look after those who can no longer look after themselves.

 Alternatively, we need to find time ourselves to give these individuals more attention and show them that they are appreciated. I know this is difficult if you have a grandparent that is ill, but the elderly have so much wisdom they can teach us young folk. Wisdom that cannot only make our lives easier, but help us tackle problems that they have tackled long before we were born. It is our duty as citizens to ensure that our individual pasts are available for future generations who will walk this earth long after we are buried within it. 

What do you think about this current situation and the impact it has on our system? Do you have a family member at home who is having problems taking care of themselves due to illness or old age?

Our elected officials have a duty to find solutions when a problem presents itself, however we as citizens also have a duty to make sure those we elect are doing their job. I know it is difficult in our age of long hours and decreasing pay, but if you speak up and get others talking...things will happen.

We owe it to our grandparents and those who came before us because they have done so much for us both directly and indirectly. If we fail at caring for them and respecting them in their time of need, what does that say about us as a people and country? As other nations begin to industrialize at a more rapid pace, this problem will slowly become an issue for them to, the best example being China and it's record busting middle class.  Stand up, make your voice heard and demand that our government work to find a solution to keep our country moving and our system growing. Canada should present itself as a beacon of hope and an example of what can be done to combat problems, not run from them just because the solution takes a bit of elbow grease.

Until next time!

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