As we enter the recovery room, of course, we look ahead while we attend to any immediate instability. We see pretty firm evidence that all of us in Canada who wish it will be vaccinated by somewhere between Canada Day and Labour Day. Assuming we can persuade the hesitant and disinterested to get their shots, the vulnerable will be protected, serious illness and deaths will have been significantly reduced and the need for major restrictions will have been removed or at least modified considerably.
It would be easy to say, “back to business,” but just as we no longer say “shake it off” to the concussed or depressed, that would be profoundly wrong.
Societal recovery will be more difficult, more prolonged and more complex than the induction process for managing COVID-19. There will be no “victory” party when survivors dance in the streets. It will be a recovery moving at different speeds in various sectors and parts of the world, often two steps forward and one back, continuing to feed uncertainty and unease.
Many individuals and institutions are currently innovating with confidence, taking advantage of opportunities. “Building back better” has become an overused rallying cry. In the sectors of health and education, where we work, there is great enthusiasm to retain the positive progress in remote care delivery and virtual classrooms.
At the same time, not everyone is ready to bounce back. There are those who require much help, asking for virtual crutches and wheelchairs, counselling, guidance and reassurance as they move forward. Many Canadians are terrified, and are troubled by the disjunction with carefree youth demanding a rapid return to social, educational and employment opportunities.
The top priority of the care plan is the need to recreate the health and social structures around how we care for older people. In that case, we cannot go from the recovery room and return to the status quo. Rehabilitation will require new laws and policies, accompanied by well-informed investments, and a society-wide dedication to ensuring that older people get the care they need, when and where they need it. We cannot pretend we didn’t see the catastrophic lessons that were thrust upon us.
Dr. Jane Philpott is a professor of Family Medicine, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Director of the School of Medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston. She held numerous federal cabinet positions from 2015 to 2019, including Minister of Health, Minister of Indigenous Services and President of the Treasury Board. Dr. David Walker is Professor in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine in the School of Medicine and Professor in the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University.
This content was originally published here.