Association warns the province its plans could jeopardize care
HAMILTON, ON, Feb. 17, 2023 /CNW/ – The Ontario government’s plans to modernize the health care system could be upended unless officials first stabilize home care staffing, says Home Care Ontario, which today released a PreBudget Report highlighting the issue.
"Periods of instability are the wrong time to introduce system reform," says Sue VanderBent, CEO of Home Care Ontario. "Experience has shown that. There is an ongoing health human resources crisis in this province. The government’s plan to introduce large-scale change before the crisis is stabilized could lead to further staff loss and even disrupt care."
Thousands of home care staff left the sector during the pandemic in search of higher pay and better benefits. Many of those workers have yet to return.
The resulting service issues are causing cascading problems for hospitals, which continue to care for patients who can’t be discharged due to a lack of home care.
The Hamilton Spectator recently revealed one hospital network in that city had 270 patients, approximately one-fifth of its patient population, waiting to be discharged. That’s the highest number of so-called alternate level of care (ALC) patients at the hospital in seven years. Many are being housed in a former Crowne Plaza hotel operated by the hospital.
Earlier this month the Ontario Hospital Association called for "revolutionary" investments in home care. The Ontario Medical Association made a similar call for increased home care investments in 2021.
"There is a resounding call from the best minds in health to increase funding to home care," said VanderBent. "That’s because home care is the solution to many of the health care problems we’re facing. If we shore up home care, we will reduce hospital admissions and speed up discharges."
Home Care Ontario is asking government to accelerate $880 million in previously pledged funding. The additional funds will help stabilize the system, through higher salaries and benefits for staff. The funding would increase the number of skilled therapists, nurses and PSWs and ultimately relieve pressure on acute care facilities.
"Home care can scale up faster than any other part of the system," said VanderBent. "Our workforce is mobile. It’s a PSW, nurse or therapist in a vehicle, travelling to treat people in their own homes. We can hire and mobilize skilled staff in a very short period if critical investments are made."
In its PreBudget Submission to government released Friday, Home Care Ontario points to the provincial health modernization plans, which call for home care to be integrated into Ontario Health Teams. Home care providers support the reforms but are warning government to stabilize home care before they move forward.
"We need to do things in the right order," said VanderBent. "Let’s stabilize the foundation before we build the house."
A full copy of Home Care Ontario’s pre-budget report can be found here.
About Home Care Ontario: Home Care Ontario is a member-based organization representing the full spectrum of home care providers in the province, including both family-funded and publicly-funded organizations. Our members are united by a singular mission to provide outstanding nursing care, home support services, personal care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, infusion pharmacy, social work, dietetics, speech language therapy and medical equipment and supplies to people in the comfort of their homes.
SOURCE Home Care Ontario