à SOCIAL ISSUES
“The Health Authorities can’t do it all”
Leadership Surrey: Business and Health Care Dialogues Series Ends
Nearly everyone has a story either within their family or a work colleague who has had to leave work due to a health emergency of their parent or elder relative. BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie was keynote at the third Leadership Surrey Dialogues: Business and Health Care, which focused on the impact that caring for elder relatives has on productivity. Just a week previous to the September dialogue, Ms Mackenzie had released a new report, Caregivers in Distress: More Respite Needed. Using the latest figures available, unpaid caregiving for seniors is estimated to be at $4.1 billion per year in BC. Further, 6.1 million Canadian workers are unpaid caregivers leading to a $1.3 billion loss in workplace productivity nationally.
A surprising finding in the Seniors Advocate’s research, is that only 7% of seniors who qualify for Adult Daycare Programs (ADP) attend these respite programs. Yet, some of the programs have waitlists. The disconnect is problematic as there is insufficient evidence to suggest why families and caregivers are not able to get the respite they need through existing programs.
Health programs and services are available, according to Keith McBain, the trick is to know about them, access them, coordinate them, and implement transition strategies for the senior as their health needs become more pressing. This, too, impacts productivity as it takes time and not a few phone calls and meetings to ensure smooth delivery of services, especially to seniors who are still residing at home. If seniors are residing in an independent or assisted living environment, the family members are still involved in setting up programs and health services in conjunction with management to ensure coverage.
Often overlooked is the importance of putting legal documents in order well in advance of potential health crises. From power of attorney to living wills, it is important to ensure the wishes of the senior relative are well known and supported by the family and by law. Trouble begins if documentation is lost, wishes are misinterpreted, and financial obligations are not met or mishandled. Legal advice is often the best way for a family to plan with their parent or elder relative—and it is never too late or too soon to begin these discussions.
Speaking at the fourth and final Business and Health Care dialogue that focused on workplace and community health and wellness, Fraser Health Authority CEO Michael Marchbank identified health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Acute care, which is the prevue of FHA, accounts for only one part of health care needs. Our environment and our personal choices matter greatly too, as does our work environment. Over 62% adults identify work as the leading cause of stress. Stress, unmanaged or managed poorly, leads to a variety of health problems further impacting productivity.
Paola Ardiles followed this theme with her presentation on Bridge for Health initiatives. After much research, Ardiles and colleagues determined six business practices, which, if implemented with the appropriate supports, can alleviate stress and other negative health impacts. Direct health services play only a small part of the framework. Participating in community activities was one of the indicators, which segued to Councillor Mary Martin’s presentation. Councillor Martin highlighted the many recreational facilities and health programs that the City of Surrey offers.
Sara Hodson, founder of Live Well Medical & Exercise Clinic, pointed out that the Fraser Health Authority, in fact all health authorities can’t do it all. We look to acute care facilities to solve chronic and long-term illness when their priority is acute care. However, there is a gap in services between what people need to live healthier lives and what is currently available. That gap, said Hodson, is an entrepreneur’s opportunity. She saw a need years ago while working in cardiac rehabilitation for FHA as relatives of patients asked for similar programs for their own health needs. The Live Well Clinic was born to develop and provide health care programs for individuals requiring assistance.
The four dialogues were developed to provide SBOT members the opportunity to discuss the priorities identified by the Social Policy Team as challenges within our health care system that impact our members’ productivity. The spring dialogues included access to primary care physicians (family doctors) and the impact of mental illness in the workplace. Information gathered will be added to a report that will be presented to the SBOT directors early in 2016. In addition to the dialogues, Kwantlen Polytechnic 4th year nursing students are assisting with research including a survey and interviews with members.
For further information on the health care dialogues or the Social Policy Team, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
September’s Dialogue on Seniors was sponsored by Dennis Kifflak of RE/MAX Little Oak Realty, BC Association of Community Response Networks, and Surrey Urban Mission.
October’s Dialogue on Wellness was sponsored by BC Association of Community Response Networks, and Surrey Urban Mission.