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Health care of health : the development of the elements of a plan to address the health needs of the elderly in British Columbia McPhee, Margaret E.

Abstract

This is an attempt at the development of the elements of a plan to address the health needs of the elderly in British Columbia, which could be directed to the minister of health of the Province. It begins with a review of provisions and legislation affecting this age group at the federal and Provincial level, and concludes that as services other than medical ones contribute to health, there is an undue emphasis on acute medical and institutional care, and a comparative inadequacy of those preventive and supportive community and social services which might meet many needs more appropriately and more economically. Most of the problems seem to stem from lack of any coherent policy with regard to the elderly - perhaps because it is only recently that they have been identified as a category, and partly because society's attitude to them is so ambivalent. It is suggested that the elderly do not require separate services but they do require a special policy. Most of the inappropriate aspects of the present delivery of health services affect all age groups and the elderly will only be able to benefit from recommended changes if they are made to the system as a whole. However, because of the increasing numbers of elderly in the population and their disproportionate consumption of medical services, and because of the evidence that many of their needs are being met inappropriately and uneconomically, it seems particularly desirable to make alternative services available to this age group. And because of their disadvantaged position with regard to income, family, friends and other social contacts, and energy compared with other age groups, it is recommended that a policy of positive discrimination be adopted towards this age group in the provision of preventive, community and social services. Various recommendations are made for elements which should be considered for inclusion in a plan, the main one being that it must be made in very close co-operation with the Department of Human Resources and with input to and/or from other relevant departments.

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