Autres nouvelles Preparing the health workforce for an aging population

OTTAWA, Ont.  — We know Canada's population is aging. In 2015, the proportion of seniors surpassed that of youth under 15 for the first time. And the gap will continue to widen over the next 20 years. But who will look after them?
There has been much discussion about how to prepare for this bulge of aging baby boomers. Media and policy reports detail strategies for aging in general, dementia care, aging at home and home care, integrated care, end of life and more. Most of these are well thought out but frequently overlook one very important implication: what kind of health workforce will be needed to deliver on these strategies?
If we are serious about preparing for an aging population, we need to get the health workforce, and its capacity to deliver care, right.
The workforce is the elephant in the room during health policy discussions - a large, pervasive issue that too often goes unaddressed. The workforce is a pillar of the health system but, like the foundation of our homes, it can sometimes go unnoticed. But if we plan on reforming services, we need to know if the health workforce foundation can support the changes. Failing to address foundational workforce issues can leave otherwise thoughtful policy without a basis from which to succeed.
A common recent theme is the promotion of aging at home to reduce the pressure on institutional long-term care. This also responds to a general preference to stay at home as long as possible. While this is laudable, shifting the delivery of care from institutions to the home has significant impacts on the workforce: who will provide this care, how will they work and how many workers will be needed to provide the care?