A Safe Room with a View: Housing Options for Seniors in the Age of Pandemics

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The first Academy forum of 2021 provided a timely and informative discussion of options and considerations for seniors housing.  In an interactive discussion Ian Darragh interviewed panelists Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, Josh Matlow, City Councillor for Toronto-St. Paul’s, and Sue Lantz, MPA, Managing Director of Collaborative Aging.

Panelists noted that while 8% of seniors live in congregate care settings, 92% of seniors age live at home. While Aging in Place is desirable there are many challenges for those who stay at home – examples: the built environment such as ramps, safe and reachable kitchen and bathroom surfaces, digital access to community connections, home supports, affordability, and integrated health services. It was noted that there are 200 high rise apartment buildings in Toronto where seniors account for 40% of occupants. Home care, including price, availability and standard of care were identified as areas where improvements can be made.

In congregate settings, especially long-term care, the panel recognized several challenges including governance issues, integration with hospital services, digital access to care services, liability insurance for facilities, emphasis on quality care of residents, and a model of emotional care of residents versus a strict model of a ‘patient care’. The pandemic has drawn into relief many problems in Ontario’s long term care facilities and allows an opportunity to transform that model of care.

All agreed that connectedness to the community is an important consideration frequently not addressed adequately in public policy development and decisions concerning housing options for seniors.

Panelists responded to a wide range of questions and comments from Academy members. What did I learn from this forum? I NEED to learn a whole lot more…I guess now would be a good plan.