Brigette Krieg, Diane Martz and
The Northwest M閠is Women's Health Research Project investigated the health care needs of elderly women and their caregivers in the M閠is community of Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan. The research project looked at access to home care and long-term care services for elderly women in the particular demographic, social, cultural and economic context of northern M閠is communities. The goal of the project was to recommend appropriate home care and long term care policies for northern M閠is communities and to ensure that these policies will be responsive to women's needs as care recipients, care providers and caregivers. By looking at the specific needs of women, the research project hoped to raise awareness of gender as an important factor to consider in developing and implementing policies related to care of the elderly.
This project used Pechansky and Thomas' (1981) approach which describes the degree of fit between clients and health system service access in terms of accessibility, affordability, availability, acceptability and accommodation. However, it is important to note that many of the issues that influence one dimension of access may also influence another. With multiple, intersecting barriers to access for this population, addressing needs becomes a challenge in prioritizing these dimensions alongside the health and social issues unique to senior M閠is women and their caregivers.
The project was led by a M閠is Women's Research Committee from the community of Buffalo Narrows working in partnership with the Aboriginal women's health research coordinator of the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE). The research used qualitative methods to gather information from M閠is women about the need for and access to home care and long term care services for elderly women in the community. During individual interviews local M閠is women were asked to describe the types of services available, types of services needed, the quality of services available and what was needed to improve the quality of services. They were asked to identify barriers which limit access to services and to suggest ways those barriers might be overcome. Based on the interviews, the M閠is Women's Research Committee developed recommendations for ways to improve policies and programs to make them more responsive to women's health needs.
Responses from the M閠is women in Buffalo Narrows identified many key recommendations for meeting the complex service needs of elderly women in the community and for improving access to health care and community services that would ease the burden on extended family members and give elderly patients more independence. Recommendations focused on addressing barriers to service access in terms of accessibility, affordability, availability, acceptability and accommodation.
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