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1 in 5 Canadian seniors entering long-term care too soon: report

1 in 5 Canadian seniors entering long-term care too soon: report
WATCH: A CIHI report has found more than 20 per cent of seniors are going into long-term care facilities before they need to. As Heather Yourex-West explains, that’s putting demand on a system already struggling to keep up.

Many Canadian seniors are entering residential care sooner than they need to, according to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

“What we found is that one in five seniors entering residential care actually have the same characteristics of those that are served in the community,” said Georgina McDonald, vice president of Western Canada and developmental initiatives of the CIHI.

READ MORE: Alberta continuing care wait times the worst in five years: report  

The report says that by expanding home care services, more seniors could stay in their homes longer. That’s something McDonald says could help alleviate pressure on provincial health systems as baby boomers age.

“The 75+ population is doubling over the next twenty years, so as we’re looking forward it’s tremendously important that we’re optimizing all of the services that are available.”

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The percentage of seniors entering residential care early was lowest in B.C. at 15 per cent, and Saskatchewan at 16 per cent. The provinces with the highest rates are Manitoba, with 33 per cent, and Alberta with 31 per cent.

Alberta’s health minister says she isn’t surprised by the findings.

READ MORE: A closer look at continuing care in Alberta

“It’s disappointing but it’s not shocking,” Sarah Hoffman said.

“For years we’ve seen under-investment in terms of home care. It’s one of the reasons why this year we’ve increased home care investment by $150 million.”

The report also found seniors were more likely to enter residential care if they were assessed in hospital.