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Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis

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Can Sweden teach Canada better ways of providing care for the elderly?

30 Sep 2010

Care of the elderly in Canada and whether the systems here can be improved by learning lessons from Sweden will be discussed at the annual Labelle Lectureship on Oct. 6.

Tamara Daly, a health services researcher and a political economist from York University’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, will deliver the lecture entitled It’s about time to care! Can we learn from Scandinavians about care for the elderly?

Sweden maintains a universally-accessible long-term care system, despite having the highest proportion of people over the age of 80 in all of Europe. The Scandinavian country invests more of its gross domestic product in its elderly citizens than any other country in the world.

All senior residents are allowed to choose whether they want home help or “special housing,” which is governed by national objectives, is publicly funded and is almost entirely publicly delivered at the local level by the 280 municipalities.

In contrast, Canada’s long-term care facilities are extended health services under the Canada Health Act, with funding, delivery and ownership arrangements differing in each province. Access to a bed is neither universal nor guaranteed at the nearly 2,200 homes for the aged, which are owned by a mix of private commercial, non-profit and municipal operators.

Though each country’s system differs in terms of its organization, delivery, financing and administration, in both countries women are the majority of residents and the majority of the care providers in long-term care residences. 

Daly will present results from a mixed method study of long-term care workers highlighting aspects of care that impact working and living conditions. The study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, compares workers in Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia to those in Scandinavian countries.

The lecture will be held in Room 1A1 of the Health Sciences Centre, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Daly, an assistant professor at York University, holds a master’s degree in political economy from Carleton University and a PhD in health policy from the University of Toronto. She studies health care work, aging and long-term care policy, and gender and health policy. Her work in long-term care has been featured in numerous publications, including a book entitled They Deserve Better.

Discussant for the lecture is Joanne Dykeman, co-chair of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association Applied Research Committee.

The Labelle Lectureship is an annual event organized by CHEPA, the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatics and the Programs for Assessment of Technology in Health Research Institute. It was established in 1992 in memory of Roberta Labelle, a founding member of CHEPA who died in 1991. The annual lectureship features a health services researcher with emerging recognition and an interdisciplinary approach to research.

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