On April 16 a webinar on “Promising Practices in Long Term Care” was organized by the Yukon Community Network of Older Adults in cooperation with Yukon College’s Health, Education & Human Services Programs and York Institute for Health Research at York University.
Thirty-five people attended the two-hour webinar with Dr. Pat Armstrong from York University and eight researchers, who shared their ideas on long term care. Twenty-five researchers worked with her on a major study of long term care in Canada, U.S., Germany, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
It was refreshing to listen to factual information presented in a clear, concise way that respected the audience’s existing knowledge and expanded our view of the possibilities for care of older adults in a respectful, inclusive and accountable way. I was left inspired, but also worried about what might lie ahead for me and other older adults in the Yukon.
I have looked at your government’s plans for Whistle Bend facility and also attended two of the information sessions facilitated by Nancy Kidd of the Health Department’s continuing care branch. The design seems impressive and I think has incorporated some of the ideas noted as promising practices in the Armstrong-led study such as small clusters of 10 to 15 residents, gardens, space for services such as hair- and foot-care, arts and crafts, and space for volunteer involvement.
However, the devil is in the details. What level of funding and what kind of support will be provided to adequately staff the facility, not only with health professionals but with the housekeeping, laundry, food preparation staff to keep it running? We want to ensure the health, safety and dignity not only of residents, but also those who work in the facility. A facility may have a beautiful design, but it is the staff and programs that make the care relationship work.
The other concern relates to economy of scale, which was discussed in the webinar. The researchers have concluded that a facility housing 100 people, organized in smaller clusters of 10 to 15 people in each cluster is a good design to ensure a community-like setting where staff and residents know each other, staff can work effectively as a team and services can be provided to residents efficiently.
Location matters, according to the researchers. Many who attended the webinar expressed concern about the facility being located in a suburb with limited services, proximity to medical or support facilities or public transportation and opportunities for engagement with the community life.
Location not only matters for residents but also family members caring for residents and facility workers. There is much more that I learned and I would encourage you and your government and officials to go to this study, reflect on some of the promising practices and to stay open to other alternatives.
I don’t feel like my views and those of many other older adults are being taken into consideration. When you consult, please listen with respect… we do speak with knowledge and from experience and we are keenly aware of our needs.
I am an older adult, able to think rationally and open to new and promising ideas. I would expect no less from you and your government as well.
Lillian Nakamura Maguire