Long Term Care
When an individual is unable to care for themselves fully, they often require what is known as long-term care. This can be done by a family member or by a nursing professional. Research papers on long term care illustrates that the growing elderly population is an increasing concern for future long term care facilities.
Often, long-term care addresses the medical needs of a patient as well as their non-medical needs; the reason for needing this care can be anything ranging from a chronic illness to a disability. The important element is that the patient is unable to fully care for themselves and require the services or assistance of another person. Care of this nature can take place in a variety of settings, ranging from a private home, either belonging to the individual or to a family member, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility. The exact location will be determined based on the medical and non-medical needs and abilities of the patient; other factors, such as financial issues, geography, and family requests can also be taken into consideration.
When developing a long-term care plan, there are several important factors to take into consideration.
- First and foremost are the medical needs of the patient; These can include such factors as the following:
- Medical treatments
- Therapeutic needs,
- Medication regiments
- Secondly are the patient's individuals needs pertaining to their quality of life.
- Providing patients with a level of independence that they are comfortable with should be the goal of long-term care; ensuring their quality of life does not decline, including the physical, mental, and emotional well-being, is vital to a successful long-term care plan.
As the baby boomer generation in the United States prepares fro retirement, concerns over the impact that this population will have on the healthcare system have grown substantially. Specifically, analysts have noted that the Medicare system is expected to become insolvent in the next decade and the rising costs of healthcare will only continue to exacerbate the situation overall. In addition to the rapidly growing costs, there is concern that as Medicare begins losing money and benefits to insurers are cut, the quality of care that can and will be provided to the aging population will be markedly diminished.
With the realization that the healthcare system and the quality of care that it provides are in such a perilous situation, there is a clear impetus to examine this situation and determine what can be done to improve the system overall. To this end, this investigation considers who should be responsible for covering the high costs of nursing care for the elderly. By comparing both Canada's socialized medical care system with America's private insurance system, it will be possible to elucidate the economic and emotional toll that this process has on the family in both systems. Further the specific drawbacks to the current healthcare system in the U.S. will be examined.
Considering first the ethical issue that arise with regard to the healthcare providers involved in care of the elderly, researchers have noted that, "In the case of long-term care agencies, ethical issues arise against a backdrop of government regulations, agency policies, professional relationships, limited financial and informational resources, and embedded power relations between the various stakeholders". Thus, for many healthcare providers the ethical issue of managing the care of the elderly are rooted in a complex system of rules and regulations that must be followed in order to ensure the proper function of the system. However, there are numerous cases in which the specific rules and regulations of the system may conflict with the personal ethics of the healthcare provider.
In this case, researchers have noted that there are no east answers for healthcare workers. As such, many professionals find it helpful to develop a system of ethics that is commensurate with the healthcare system in which they work. If a situation arises that promulgates concern, the healthcare provider should be willing to speak out and serve as an advocate for the patient. However, it has been noted that when it comes to the bureaucracy of the system, in many cases, the overwhelming power of the healthcare institution is often too significant to overcome. As such, many healthcare providers need to come to terms with doing the best that they can with the resources that they have. This can be challenging for healthcare providers that have made a promise to put their patients first and ensure the care of the patient over all other issues.
Arguably, the research that has been provided on this issue is both vague and bleak. From the standpoint of healthcare professionals, it is evident that there are few steps that these individuals can take to ensure the equitable treatment of all patients. If Medicare or Medicaid is picking up the tab for specific patients, they are labeled as such and given lower priority than those that are funded through private insurance or self-pay. Given that the delivery of healthcare should not be predicated on the individual's ability to pay, the realization that this has become the general trend in nursing care raises significant questions about the integrity of the healthcare system for the elderly and the politicians that administer this healthcare system.