There are currently over 2500 long-term care facilities in Canada . It is expected that the number of long term care and residential settings will continue to expand as the population continues to age and require various levels and types of residential support. The literature suggests that there is an extremely high prevalence of mental disorder among nursing home residents. However, mental health services are inconsistently provided to clients in these settings. Furthermore, there is surprisingly little information about the human resource needs in long term care and residential settings in Canada.
The majority of primary care medical services for physical and mental health in long-term care facilities in Canada are provided by family physicians. Despite the large increase in the number of beds available in long-term care facilities, the number of physicians needed to meet the increased demand has not been clarified.
The Canadian family physicians’ experience in long term care is not understood. The CCSMH , under the leadership of Dr. Chris Frank, has undertaken a study of Family Physicians working in long term care settings to determine the opportunities and barriers to long term care practice. The goal is to clarify family physicians’ opinions about recruitment and retention of physicians working in long term care and to identify the issues related to their own satisfaction with this work. This information will be used to inform policy makers and professional organizations of factors related to physician manpower in long term care and to guide the CCSMH to develop an overall strategy to improve recruitment and retention.
Once this study is completed further national studies targeting physicians, nurses and other care providers should also be supported.