How Long is Too Long to Have to Wait for Subsidized Long Term Care?

20 Jun

According to Central Toronto CCAC, the nursing home my mother most wants to go to is still filling applications from 2003-04. Yes, that’s right. The wait time for Baycrest’s Apotex Centre Jewish Home for the Aged is TEN YEARS! Sad to say, but with all my mother’s ailments, she has a better chance of landing a spot in a cemetery than she does a bed in the place most-likely to meet her cultural and spiritual needs.

A ten-year wait time like the one my mother faces for Baycrest is extreme.  However, lengthy wait-times for provincially subsidized beds in long term care facilities are not  unusual.  I suspect smaller homes built to accommodate the specific needs or religious practices of other ethnic groups have even longer wait lists.

Those of us who advocate for family members know why culturally-sensitive homes are so important. They provide programming as well as familiar language, food, customs, and festivities. Sights, smells, and sounds from long ago are often therapeutic for a person  living with dementia.  While our loved ones may not be able to remember our names or what they had for breakfast, their memories of long ago can be vivid and comforting.

Baycrest was founded in 1918 by  Toronto’s Jewish community. It has since become an internationally renowned institution and a world leader in aging and brain health. But the home for the aged is only a small part of  Baycrest.  And with 472 beds there is a limit to the number of residents its staff can care for at any given time. are many reasons why Baycrest would be the ideal facility for my mother. As the first child to be born in Canada to a family that fled Poland in the 1930s, she grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home during a time of rampant anti-semitism.  Although the world around her has changed drastically, faith and traditions have been a constant.

Whether the wait time for Baycrest gets any shorter, or my mother will be offered a place there while some of her memory is still in tact remains to be seen. The Jewish population of Toronto is currently at about 175,000 and almost 15 per cent (14.8% according to the 2011 census) of Canada’s overall population is over 65 years old. Demand for long term care beds will  increase right along with Canada’s aging population. The likelihood of supply keeping pace is doubtful.

I hope I can spend my final years in my own home. But should I need long term care, I might want to go to Baycrest too. I shudder to think how long the wait will be then.

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