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Who will care for Canada’s greying population?
Over the next 30 years, the number of elderly Canadians needing assistance is expected to double. This demographic shift is giving rise to one of the greatest social policy challenges of our times: how will we meet the growing demand for care, given there will be fewer adult children available to help? This question is at the heart of research conducted at the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.
The CFI-funded Maritime Data Centre for Aging Research and Policy Analysis, a lab at the Centre on Aging established by sociologist Janice Keefe, has been instrumental in influencing policy on elder care. In 2009, its research contributed to the implementation of a caregiver support program in Nova Scotia, the first and only Canadian province to offer monthly financial compensation to informal caregivers, such as family and friends. The centre has also produced a comprehensive tool to assess informal caregivers’ needs ― called C.A.R.E., for Caregivers’ Aspirations, Realities and Expectations ― which has caught the interest of provincial governments across the country.
The Centre’s expertise is regularly sought by dozens of organizations dealing with elder care, on subjects as varied as new designs for nursing homes and training programs for dealing with dementia.
The Maritime Data Centre is also a fertile training ground for future leaders in gerontology. Of the nearly 30 graduate students who have worked in the lab over the past five years, most are employed in the field, in roles ranging from policy analysis for the Nova Scotia government to directing home care in Nunavut.