Picture shows care worker assisting a woman who is walking with a mobility aid

Cost Avoidance is Not the Solution for Long-Term Care Problems

Long-term care (LTC) is one of the most pressing issues facing our aging population. As the baby boomers turn 75 this year, the demand for LTC is expected to grow rapidly, from 380,000 patients in 2019 to 606,000 patients in 2031. The cost of providing LTC is also projected to increase, from $29.7 billion in 2019 to $58.5 billion in 2031.

However, many governments and policymakers are focusing on cost avoidance rather than investing in quality care for seniors. Cost avoidance is the practice of reducing or delaying spending on LTC services, often by shifting the burden to informal caregivers, such as family and friends, or by limiting access to LTC facilities. Cost avoidance may seem like a prudent strategy in the short term, but it has serious consequences for the health and well-being of seniors and their caregivers in the long term.

Cost avoidance is not helping fix the problems in LTC, but rather exacerbating them. Here are some of the negative impacts of cost avoidance:

  • Cost avoidance compromises the quality and safety of LTC. By cutting corners on staffing, training, equipment, and infection control, cost avoidance puts seniors at risk of harm, neglect, abuse, and preventable hospitalizations. A recent study found that almost 60% of residents with adverse events had substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, or failures and delays in treatment that resulted in harm, jeopardy, or hospital readmissions that cost about $2.8 billion.
  • Cost avoidance undermines the dignity and autonomy of seniors. By restricting the availability and choice of LTC options, cost avoidance forces seniors to accept lower standards of care or to remain in inappropriate settings, such as hospitals or their own homes, without adequate support. Cost avoidance also disregards the preferences and needs of seniors, who often want to stay at home as long as possible and receive person-centered care that respects their individuality and values.
  • Cost avoidance overburdens the informal caregivers of seniors. By relying on unpaid or underpaid care from family and friends, cost avoidance shifts the responsibility and cost of LTC to the informal caregivers, who often have to juggle multiple roles and demands, such as work, childcare, and household chores. Cost avoidance also neglects the physical, emotional, and financial challenges that informal caregivers face, such as stress, burnout, depression, isolation, and poverty.

Cost avoidance is not the solution for LTC problems, but rather a short-sighted and unsustainable approach that harms seniors and their caregivers. Instead of avoiding costs, we need to invest in LTC solutions that improve the quality of life and care for seniors and their caregivers. Some of the possible solutions are:

  • Increasing the funding and accountability for LTC. We need to ensure that LTC facilities and providers have adequate resources and incentives to deliver high-quality and safe care that meets the standards and regulations. We also need to monitor and evaluate the performance and outcomes of LTC services and hold them accountable for any deficiencies or violations.
  • Expanding and diversifying the LTC options for seniors. We need to provide more and better LTC options for seniors, such as home care, community care, assisted living, and residential care, that suit their different needs and preferences. We also need to ensure that seniors have access to and choice of LTC options, regardless of their income, location, or condition.
  • Supporting and empowering the informal caregivers of seniors. We need to recognize and value the contribution of informal caregivers to LTC and provide them with adequate support and compensation. We also need to empower informal caregivers to participate in the decision-making and care planning for seniors and to advocate for their rights and interests.

LTC is not a cost to be avoided, but an investment in the well-being of our seniors and our society. By investing in LTC solutions, we can ensure that seniors and their caregivers receive the care and respect they deserve.



1.     https://globalnews.ca/news/7718307/elder-care-cost-canada-double-baby-boomers/

2.     https://www.forbes.com/sites/impactpartners/2019/03/19/the-good-the-bad–and-the-ugly-of-long-term-care/?sh=1c15a6771063

3.     https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/key-issues-in-long-term-services-and-supports-quality/

About Crystal Trevors

Crystal is the founder and owner of Stepscan Technologies Inc. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of New Brunswick, a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Prince Edward Island, and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Guelph. Her business and research interests include corporate performance management and reporting, process improvement and operational efficiencies. Operating Stepscan is a dream come true for her, allowing her to combine her love of biology, research and business, every day.

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