Research informs better home care for seniors

Learn how MSFHR-funded research supports healthy aging in the latest issue of Spark.

BC has the fastest growing population of seniors in Canada. It is estimated that by 2031 roughly one quarter of the provincial population will be over the age of 65.

This shifting demographic will place additional strain on primary health care resources and create a need for more effective home and community care services. To address this emerging need, the BC Ministry of Health has made a commitment to improving seniors’ care, articulated in the Seniors Action Plan and Setting Priorities for the BC Health System.

As part of MSFHR’s strategic focus on increasing the responsiveness of BC’s health research enterprise to provincial priorities, the Foundation has undertaken several initiatives that will inform better care for seniors.

In January 2014, MSFHR partnered with the BC Ministry of Health to host an international forum on best practices in seniors’ home care. Six international experts were invited to Vancouver to speak about home care practice in their respective countries, offering an important opportunity for BC policy-makers and researchers to learn how other jurisdictions are providing sustainable home care for seniors.

Each expert speaker at the forum described the context for home care in his or her country as well as highlighting recent innovations and lessons learned from their own research. Following the presentations, participants discussed key lessons for BC before identifying a core set of objectives to guide the development of improved home care models. All presentations and subsequent discussions are summarized in the report, which is available for download.

MSFHR has also supported the BC Ministry of Health to gather evidence related to Better at Home, a provincially funded non-medical home support program managed by the United Way of the Lower Mainland.

Better at Home helps seniors with day-to-day activities such as yard work, home repairs, transportation to appointments, and housekeeping. The program aims to increase seniors’ quality of life, help them stay connected to their communities, and delay the transition into higher levels of institutional care.

In 2013, MSFHR coordinated a request for applications from BC researchers interested in leading an evaluation of Better at Home. Through this funding opportunity, a study co-led by Drs. Kimberlyn McGrail and David Whitehurst will provide evidence to help the BC Ministry of Health assess Better at Home’s cost-effectiveness and impact on older adults’ quality of life.

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