The problem of ethnic and elderly
Making the news recently in our area is the problem of nursing homes in an increasingly diverse ethnic mosaic. Many elderly immigrants either do not speak english or french, or they are losing their second language skills as they age.
This is a time when over 50% of Toronto's population is born outside of Canada, there are over 140 different languages and dialects spoken, and we are an aging society.
So how can one city provide nursing homes that are sufficiently staffed by that wide a variety of ethnic language speakers? This is the struggle highlighted recently when the family of a 105 year old woman who only speaks Russian could not find a nursing home with open spots staffed by Russian speakers.
This has touched off a debate on whether the nursing homes should provide the interpreters, or whether the family should provide them if they need them for family members.
About half of TorontoÃ¯Â¿Â½s 2.6 million residents are born outside of Canada, speaking a first language other than English or French. With over 140 languages and dialects spoken in the GTA, the city is a language mosaic. Toronto already has a number of long-term care facilities that cater to specific cultural groups such as Yee Hong and Mon Sheong for the Chinese population, Hellenic Home for the Greek community, Villa Colombo in North York for those with Italian heritage, Suomi-Koti in Leaside for the Finnish population and Baycrest Centre for the Jewish community, just to name a few. Yet seeking a home according to language and ethnospecific care is still challenging because demand is greater than availability.
The waiting lists at Yee Hong and Hellenic Home are so long, it can take years until a spot is available. Helen Chan, a retired school teacher, is currently looking for a home for her 92-year-old aunt. She counts her lucky stars that both her parents were able to get into Yee Hong in the beginning. With specialized facilities, including a Snoezelen room, otherwise known as a controlled multisensory environment that both stimulates and relaxes, Yee Hong can be especially helpful for residents with dementia. "We are lucky in Toronto because [Yee Hong has] four centres, but we are still short on beds," says Chan. "The wait time is really crazy. I need a backup plan."
Here is a link that might be useful: Ethnic nursing homes