FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

An Innovative Project for Care on a Human Scale: Small Homes for Seniors

An Innovative Project for Care on a Human Scale: Small Homes for Seniors

For a few years now, statistics have shown that Quebec has a significant aging population which will continue to grow in the coming years. And with an aging population comes an increasing need for accessible health care. Nowadays, home support public services do not cover seniors who need more than 1.5 hours or less than 3 hours of care per day. Evaluated according to specific criteria, this vulnerable part of the population with reduced autonomy are left in the hands of the for-profit private network. The Fédération interprofessionnelle du Québec – FIQ strongly disagrees with this and is pooling its resources to create a new housing model managed by the public network.

The FIQ is currently reviewing a small homes for seniors pilot project underway in North Lanaudière scheduled to be launched in fall 2018. The project brings together community members and several local partners to offer innovative alternative housing to seniors who over time end up living on a reduced income.

The current housing options also exclude any seniors considered “too rich” to be eligible for social housing as well as those considered “too poor” to afford the cost of living in a private residence. This new housing model aims to fill community needs, which are not met by the current system, by offering adapted and dignified services to the aging population–services that go beyond market logic.

A People-Centred Vision

Inspired by a Scandinavian initiative, the small homes for seniors project gives people with reduced autonomy the power of choice. They will be able to choose where they receive services adapted to their needs, whether at home or in a public CHSLD. By enabling social participation in their community, we will improve the health of seniors while reducing the risk of illness and the development of symptoms of depression.

These adapted residences will have 16 to 20 spacious rooms that facilitate transfers from bed to armchair and the adjoining bathroom. They are also designed to accommodate all the equipment necessary to meet the needs of people with reduced autonomy. The residences will also include common areas, such as a living room, dining room, kitchen and private sitting room.

Moreover, people living in these community residences with services will take part in all decisions that concern them. They will be able to decide whether they want to spend their last moments in the residence instead of being transferred to another resource. All the services and care will be provided in a safe environment that meets their specific needs, degree of autonomy and state of health.

Healthcare Professionals Involved in the Project

In the small homes for seniors project, healthcare professionals can get further involved and enjoy autonomy that enables them to develop their full potential. They can put their full scope of practice to work in terms of prevention and care.

The FIQ believes that services offered in the small homes project should be publicly funded to ensure overall quality. The public network should cover the cost and ensure the quality of care and services offered.

A Housing Model Aligned with Government Policies

This one of a kind project also uses a unique partner approach, with partners from a wide range of backgrounds. Each partner is an expert in their respective field, whether in community housing, domestic help or health care access. The strength of this innovative and bold project lies in the diversity of its community players.

Additional sectors of activity in the social economy, such as the food sector, transportation, recreation and culture, will also be involved. This gathering of community players with varying concerns will contribute to developing businesses in the social economy and to enhancing the value of their service offering with regards to the challenges of an aging population. The small homes pilot project therefore reflects the guidelines and objectives set out in the government’s social economy action plan for 2015-2020, the Ministère de la Famille et aînés’ Aging and Living Together policy, and the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ policy on home support.

A Forward-Looking Societal Project

Statistics show that by 2031, 25% of the Quebec population will be over 65. This means we need to adapt services so seniors can stay in their communities as long as possible. The decision-makers’ main priorities should be the type of housing, access to long-term care, access to home care and end-of-life care, as well as collective housing. The new housing model with integrated care meets all of these needs under one roof!

As the old German saying goes, “Never uproot a mature tree.”

Transcript and free translation of an article that appeared in the 2017 spring edition of Municipalité+Famille