Changing Society’s Discourse About Long-Term Care
I do not remember another extended time period during my lifetime when long-term care (LTC) has received as much media attention as it has during the era of COVID-19. The circumstances surrounding LTC, that have come to the forefront over the last year, have been tragic: death, devastation, loneliness, social isolation, along with constraints in resource and staffing levels, quality of care and infection control practices. These limitations were well known among many who work in long-term care but not as known within our society at large. COVID-19 has not created many of these problems; it has simply exposed them. If there is one silver lining through all of this, it is that the increased attention to LTC that resulted from COVID-19 has created public, media and political pressure to bring about positive changes. These changes must include improved levels of staffing and resource allocation along with staff continuing education programs to help ensure that the newest cutting edge clinical developments are used to improve the lives of residents.
The #SeePainMoreClearly team has been working to disseminate knowledge and to advocate for better pain assessment and management practices supported by enhanced continuing education programs for health care staff. We hope that the increased attention that LTC is receiving from the media, the public and politicians will result in improvements to the quality of life of those residing in care homes. Given that persistent pain affects as many as 80% of these residents, pain control is one of the most important determinants of quality of life. Combined with the challenges that residents with advanced dementia have in verbally communicating their needs around pain, much emphasis has to be placed on improved pain assessment. We encourage LTC facilities and policy makers who are interested in improving pain care and quality of life to browse through seepainmoreclearly.org and consult with our team about best practices in pain care. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- By Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Ph.D.
Dr. Hadjistavropoulos is an international leader in the area of pain assessment in dementia and has shown leadership in the promotion of the health sciences at the local, national and international level. He is the Research Chair in Aging and Health, Director of the Centre on Aging and Health and Professor of Psychology at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He served as the 2007 President of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).