Physiotherapy and Healthy Aging: Think Tank Outcome

Canadian Physiotherapy Association Forum 2019


For Immediate Release
July 5, 2019

Better Access to Physiotherapy in the Community Can Prevent Hospital Admissions and Save Money

CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island (July 5, 2019) – At the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s (CPA) Forum 2019, physiotherapists and physiotherapists’ assistants from across the country identified that increased access to physiotherapy can result in decreased spending by the federal and provincial governments on health care.

From June 27 – 29, more than 200 physiotherapy leaders from across the profession gathered together at the CPA’s Forum 2019. This year’s theme was Maximizing Potential: Promoting Healthy Aging where experts reflected on the fact that by 2036 more than 62% of health care spending will be on those over 65.[1] As part of the program, CPA facilitated a Think Tank discussion with 75+ experts to provide Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, and Filomena Tassi, Minister of Seniors with outcome-focused recommendations where physiotherapy can play a role in supporting aging Canadians while lowering health care costs.

The result of the Think Tank discussion was a clear statement from the profession: access to physiotherapy leads to decreased spending by federal and provincial governments while increasing the well-being of Canadians as they age.

Fueled by powerful presentations by geriatric and health care experts like Dr Samir Sinha, the group identified the development and support of national seniors’ strategies that leverage the value of physiotherapy and community-based practice are critical for managing the upcoming demand for health care services and funding for seniors.

Together, the group identified that a national senior’s strategy should include:

  •  An increased primary care role for physiotherapy
  • Increased support for community and in-home physiotherapy care
  • Measures to decrease the financial barrier to access physiotherapy
  • Leverage physiotherapists and rehab specialists in prevention (e.g. funded ‘falls’ prevention and education courses)

By supporting a community-based national seniors strategy meeting the recommendations identified above, the government can expect:

  • Fewer hospital stays because seniors’ needs will be proactively addressed
  • Less demand for hospital and long-term care beds as a result of prevention
  • Fewer surgeries as a result of less falls
  • Less health care spending as the cost of community and in-home physiotherapy services are substantially smaller than specialist care and medical treatment in hospital
  • More Canadians aging independently, in their homes
  • Reduction of caregiver burden on Canadians as caregivers are supported by rehab specialists where they live

Ultimately, Canadians don’t want to end up in hospital, long-term care or other facilities as they age. An investment in physiotherapy at the community level can support prevention and early detection and keep Canadians at home as they age. This method of prevention saves money as physiotherapy services are significantly more cost-effective than medical procedures required in hospital such as post-fall surgery, or lengthy hospital stays.

The CPA and our partners with our provincial branches and divisions invite the Minister of Seniors and the Minister of Health to join us in the health care setting to see first-hand how physiotherapy services can improve the well-being of aging Canadians and save tax-payer dollars.