An international survey of health care received by seniors reveals a problem of more acute access to the Atlantic than elsewhere in Canada, but generally positive management of patients outside hospitals.
The Commonwealth Fund’s 2017 International Survey of Older Adults’ Health Policies , published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), puts the performance of the Canadian health care system in relief with those of other developed countries (Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom).
Canada’s performance continues to be below the international average for rapid access to primary health care, and at the national level, the situation in Atlantic Canada is the most problematic for seniors.
In Canada, about two-thirds of seniors are unable to get a medical appointment for the same day or the next day, and the same proportion is having difficulty getting medical care outside of work hours.
Urgency is often the only option in the Atlantic
It is in the Atlantic, more than anywhere else in Canada, that older patients are most often forced to visit the ER for a health problem that could have been treated in a doctor’s office or clinic.
This problem is noticed in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. The four provinces are the only provinces in Canada to perform below the international average.
The percentage of the population living in rural areas is higher in the Atlantic than elsewhere in the country. Emergencies are sometimes the only places where care is provided outside normal clinic hours.
It is in New Brunswick that seniors most often visit the emergency department for a condition that could have been treated by their regular doctor.
It is also more difficult, compared to the international average, for New Brunswick seniors to obtain after-hours care.
In contrast, New Brunswick has the highest percentage of seniors in Canada reporting having been able to follow their treatment plan in their daily lives.
Despite the continuing shortage of family physicians in Nova Scotia , it seems that the coordination between primary health care and specialized care is satisfying older patients.