Community Living

The Covid-19 pandemic has focused attention on the needs of our senior population wanting to age in place with appropriate neighbourhood supports. The needs of younger adults with complex physical, medical and intellectual disabilities are identical to those of the frail elderly, and they too are often kept in hospitals or in inappropriate long term care facilities.

For decades, non-profit Independant Living(IL) Service agencies have been developing innovative community living models that are now being successfully adapted across Ontario.  A 2017 brief by the Ontario Association of Independant Living Service Providers (OAILSP)(1) acknowledges the gap in independant living supports and services, and if not addressed can only lead to more costly hospital and LTC admissions. The report concluded that IL services and supports are less costly than hospitals, and no more costly than LTC homes. The report also makes note of how renovating existing neighbourhood residences for accessibility, such as the Innes House run by PHSS, is much faster and less costly than building new multi-unit properties to meet these same needs.

A recent opinion piece by Senator Judth Seidman(2) also acknowledged the desire of many Canadians to “age in place”, and that Canada trails many other countries in home care and neighbourhood living. Senator Seidman urges greater public investments in home care and community services, citing recent studies and reports by Queen’s University(3) and the Canadian Medical Association(4).

The Queen’s University report also concludes that the majority of ageing seniors want to age in place, and that Canada places little emphasis on home care compared to most other developed countries. In addition to being the least desired, continuing care hospitals and alternative levels of care in hospitals are the most expensive care options available for seniors at almost $1,000 per day.

The Deloitte-CMA report cited by Senator Seidman also recommends reducing reliance on Hospital and LTC care in favour of home care as a better match with care needs, resulting in health care system savings of $2.2 billion in 2031.

The complex care needs of persons with significant physical, medical and intellectual disabilities who require access to shared 24/7 care, in hospitals(5), living with ageing parents in the family home, or even in group homes and clustered settings, should have the option of comfortable supportive living in neighbourhood homes just like everyone else.

  1. Williams, Paul A. PhD, “Building Community-Based Capacity to Meet Ontario’s Needs”, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, prepared for the Ontario Association of Independant Living Services Providers, University of Toronto, April, 2017.
  2. “Seniors want to age in place. Let’s help them”, Seidman, Senator Judith G., The Ottawa Citizen, Opinion Page, 25 October, 2021.
  3. Queen’s University School of Policy Studies, “Ageing Well”, Kingston, November 2020.
  4. Deloitte, “Canada’s Elder Care Crisis”, prepared for the Canadian Medical Association, March 25, 2021.
  5. 'What we need doesn't exist', Blair Crawford, The Ottawa Citizen, September 29, 2021.

1 thought on “Community Living

  1. Thanks Al for this focussed wakeup call. It also causes me to wonder how similar and under-met are the needs of the chronically sick at home persons of every age, such as my long suffering 42 year old daughter and her struggling to cope family. The burdens of some are unseen and unbearable. Surely we can find ideas, time and resources to do better for more struggling families and individuals. Thankyou.

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