Herman Thorvaldson and his family have owned and operated the Thorvaldson Care Center for 59 years, offering through that period housing and increasingly comprehensive care to Manitoba’s elderly. In this issue of Lifestyles 55 and in the two preceding issues, the Thorvaldson family have drawn on their rich experience to offer readers a brief overview of the nature and state of elderly housing and care here through that period and to look ahead to the future.
Health analysts here have already warned that more, much more, needs to be done to prepare for the huge wave of boomers that will soon be entering their post-75 years and putting heightened demands on our care system. The Thorvaldson piece sheds a revealing light on the gaps in that system, gaps that are even now having an impact on health services and even families with elderly family members.
In many cases the problem revolves around the situation of elderly people needing access to moderate medical care and attention. Many such individuals pass into the care of families, aided by homecare. Others, though, end up in hospital beds or personal care homes where the available care far exceeds their needs – and now becomes unavailable to people who truly need it. Or, for lack of the care they do need, the health of these elderly folk deteriorates. They become regulars in city hospital emergency rooms. The whole system suffers, and the costs are many, varied and in total huge.
The Thorvaldson Care Center brings a support offering that is otherwise absent here: an intermediate level of care and housing, with all-important trained nurses on staff and round-the-clock health services and monitoring. This intermediate service is widely offered in other Canadian provinces, but excluded from Manitoba’s three-tier housing system. Thorvaldson’s pays its own way; no other care provider has tried lately to set up such an operation.
Thorvaldson Care Center has approached the Manitoba government with a proposal for putting their operation on trial as a pilot project, the hope being that the care system would one day be extended to include intermediate care. They have so far been turned down.