By Matthew Brett

Next steps are taking shape following the Mobilizing Knowledge for Elder Empowerment Forum held at the Institute of Health Sciences Education this past summer, but there remain major challenges to advancing integrated care for older people.

The July 11-12 forum brought international leaders together including a former World Health Organization official, researchers, and community and healthcare advocates. (See participant list below.)

“The intention of this forum was to come away with practical and strategic plans for social services and healthcare delivery while highlighting possible blind spots,” said Dr. Peter Nugus, forum organizer and Faculty Member of the Institute of Health Sciences Education.

“Healthcare is complicated enough, but there’s now emerging research paying greater attention to health and social care, especially where there’s systemic vulnerability,” Dr. Nugus explained. “There’s a snowball effect of poverty, homelessness, mental health issues and other challenges, and this mixes in with a range of health problems.”

Forum participants spent the first day understanding the radically diverse perspectives around the table with respect to integrated care, from hospital users’ committee co-chairs to academics and a former provincial finance minister.

Specific research agenda items and policy proposals were the primary topics of discussion on the second day.

Seeta Ramdass, Co-Chair of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Users’ Committee, hopes that outcomes from the forum will make their way to policymakers and government officials.

“The government should dedicate resources to creating culturally safe and sensitive transition care units, rehabilitation units, step-down units, and more community-based long-term care places for the elderly, with the goal in mind of not just housing or ‘storing’ the elderly as objects, but rather helping these human beings who contributed to building our community to regain their autonomy,” she said.

Mr. Danis Prud’homme, CEO of the Réseau Fédération de l’âge d’or du Québec (FADOQ), an advocacy organization for elders with over 535,000 members across Quebec, agreed that the forum outcomes can turn into action.

“For such a forum to be successful, organizations must continue to share and even potentially develop partnerships for joint projects for the well-being of seniors,” he said. “Synergy is necessary given the limited resources of all organizations.”

Forum participants agreed upon three core policy proposals. First, participants agreed on the need for the national adoption of a wrap-around geriatric integrated program similar to the program implemented by the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Senior Health Home Call Program.

Second, Forum participants agreed that the Government of Canada should incentivize all provinces and territories to develop an integrated, patient-controlled, provincially inter-operable client electronic health and social care record system. Forum participants considered this as a means of providing patients and clients with greater access and control over their health and social care records.

Lastly, Forum participants agreed the Government of Canada should financially mandate a single health and social care broker representing each health and social care team, with the broker answerable for collaboratively discerned outcomes. This proposal is designed to link fragmented health and social services and work towards an integrated care system.

In terms of next steps, there is talk of hosting a webinar in 2020 to advance ideas that emerged during the forum.

Forum participants also noted the International Foundation for Integrated Care’s first North American Conference on Integrated Care  in Toronto in October 2020. Forum participants agreed that a workshop proposal for this conference should be developed to build on the forum.

Forum organizers included Drs. Peter Nugus, Yvonne Steinert from the Institute, Jean-Louis Denis from Université de Montréal, and Claudia Mitchell from the McGill Faculty of Education. Organizers received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for this initiative.

Presenters and conveners

  • Dr. Jean-Louis Denis, Professor of Public Health, Université de Montréal
  • Dr. Émilie Dionne, Academic Associate Scientist, St. Mary’s Research Centre, Montreal
  • Dr. Mila Garcia-Barbero, Professor of Public Health, Universidad Miguel Hernandez del Eche, Former Director, The WHO European Office for Integrated Health Care Services
  • Dr. Toni Dedeu, CEO, International Foundation for Integrated Care
  • Ms. Laura Kadowaki, PhD candidate, President of the Canadian Association on Gerontology Student Connection
  • Ms. Amy Ma, Co-Chair of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Users’ Committee
  • Ms. Moira MacDonald, Program Manager, Support Program for the Autonomy of Seniors, Central West Montreal
  • Ms. Maud Mazaniello-Chézol, PhD candidate, McGill University
  • Dr. Lynn McDonald, Professor of Social Work, University of Toronto
  • Ms. Sheri McLeod, President, Board of Directors, Coalition Pour Le Maintien Dans La Communauté (COMACO)
  • Dr. Claudia Mitchell, Professor of Education, McGill University
  • Dr. Peter Nugus, Assistant Professor, Institute of Health Sciences Education & Department of Family Medicine, McGill University
  • Mr. Danis Prud’homme, CEO, Réseau Fédération de l’âge d’or du Québec (FADOQ)
  • Ms. Seeta Ramdass, Co-Chair of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Users’ Committee
  • Dr. Yvonne Steinert, Director, Institute of Health Sciences Education, McGill University
  • Ms. Laura Tamblyn-Watts, National Director, Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP)
  • Ms. Valérie Thomas, PhD candidate, Concordia University

December 12 2019