A registered nurse by background, Candace is a practiced health care professional with many accomplishments under her belt. She has held positions such as Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Project Director, Administrator, and Director of Care in the long-term care sector, before joining OLTCA. She is also Vice-President of the Canadian Association of Long Term Care (CALTC).
In a Q&A with BC Care Providers Association, Candace reflects on her experiences as CEO of the Association and an influential leader in seniors care.
How did you come to work in support of long-term care providers in Ontario?
I have always had an interest in seniors’ care. I started my career as a registered nurse, which eventually led me to working in the long-term care sector. Before joining the Ontario Long Term Care Association, I had worked in long-term care in a variety of roles for 17 years. When this opportunity came along to advocate at the provincial level, it felt like a natural next step for me. It was an exciting opportunity to shift from an operational focus to a system-level focus and to truly act as a change agent for our province’s care providers.
What is your most memorable/proudest achievement at OLTCA?
It’s really hard to pinpoint just one, as there have truly been some amazing achievements both in the sector and at the Association, especially lately. I am very proud of the work the Association has done to streamline a number of our activities – from government relations, to member communications, to events. On this note I would have to say that I am extremely proud of our signature, This is Long Term Care conference and annual “state of the sector” report by the same name.
Through the report we’ve gone a long way to help increase awareness about what long-term care truly is. It has played an integral role in helping us change the conversation when it comes to long-term care, and also serves as a way to explain the sector to those who don’t fully understand what long-term care is – including politicians and the media.
And our conference, which is focused on research and innovation in long-term care, continues to get positive reviews from members as one of the leading educational and networking events for long-term care. What’s more, for 2019 we have brought the conference to a global level, partnering with the Global Ageing Network to share best practices and key learnings about elder care with international delegates. Although I won’t be at the helm of the Association during the conference, I am extremely proud of this achievement.
What is the best part of your job?
Hands down the best part of this job is being able to take part in influencing change for Ontario’s seniors. Although challenging at times, I really enjoy working with our government to come up with solutions that will create a more optimal environment for those living in long-term care. At the end of the day, that’s what it is really about – being able to provide the best possible quality of care to residents. I’m happy to be able to work toward that goal every day.
What key piece of advice would you like to give to your successor?
My best piece of advice is to ensure that all of the Association’s members have an equal voice. One of the Association’s greatest strengths is the breadth and depth of its membership. The fact that we represent such a diverse group in both size and scope really helps us in our advocacy work, but it can also make things a bit tricky. For example, we know different issues impact different types of organizations differently and certain homes have unique challenges that may require more attention at times. That part is a balancing act, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the overall sector goal of increasing quality, person-centred care for our residents. My best advice is just to ensure that everything you do has this end goal in mind for the entire sector.
What is the challenge that faces long-term care in the coming years, and how might we address it?
The biggest challenge we’re going to face is the impending boom of seniors that will need long-term care in the future. We know by looking at our demographics that we’re going to see a huge increase in demand for services, and not that far into the future. Time is truly running out to be able to adequately prepare for this. We are at a point now where we are fighting just to be able to provide adequate care for the current populations we serve, let alone to ensure we’re prepared for an even larger demand.
To address this, we need to invest now to ensure care and services are there tomorrow. We need a system that addresses both quantity and quality. It must manage the current demand while ensuring capacity to support seniors for the next 10 years and beyond. But we can’t accomplish this in isolation; the long-term care sector must work alongside our health system partners toward a system-wide solution.
What is next for you? What are you looking forward to post-OLTCA?
At this point, I’m staying open to the possibilities of what will come next. I am looking forward to taking some much-needed down time with my family and for an opportunity to reflect on where I’d like to go from here. With that said, I would love to continue working in seniors’ care in some capacity. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future will bring, whatever that may be.