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Can Ontario's home healthcare system be improved?

Originally reported by our sister brand Business Review Canada andthe Globe and Mail, Canadas home healthcare system is not doing well. In a word, the s...

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|Jul 20|magazine10 min read

Originally reported by our sister brand Business Review Canada and the Globe and Mail, Canada’s home healthcare system is not doing well. In a word, the system seems to be failing as there is a high demand for assistance in Ontario. However, the system is underfunded and challenged.

What needs to change in order to correct this situation? And is it even an issue than can be fixed?

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It was during a recent investigation that the Globe and Mail spoke with current and previous patients, community groups and unions for profit and non-profit homecare providers. The discovery was alarming: the homecare system in Canada’s largest province is facing numerous challenges.

Particularly, the system seems to be plagued by inconsistent standards of care and a lack of transparency for both patients and family caregivers. Furthermore, it seems that Ontario is shifting healthcare out of hospitals and long-term care facilities and into people’s houses. Ontario is even now known for having the fewest hospital beds per capita of any province in Canada.

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Therefore, due to the rise in demand for homecare, community-care centres are beginning to charge high standards, reduce services and cut clients completely off. In some cases, patients and family members are even being pressured into handling some of duties, such as dressing wounds and changing intravenous medicine bags. And now, there are more than 4,500 people across the province who are on waiting lists for publicly funded personal support services in their homes.

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The problem seems to lie with the fact that in Canada, there is little agreement on what government-funded homecare is, how it should operate, what services it should provide and who should pay for them.

Over the last quarter of a century, Ontario has cut acute-care hospital beds by 44 per cent. Specifically, that’s 33,403 beds in 1990 to just 18,588 beds last year, with the trouble being that the homecare system in Ontario is too dysfunctional and poorly funded to adequately meet challenges.

Dr. Williams of the U of T has said the following regarding the issue, “Ontario needs to invest much more heavily in day programs, assisted-living spaces and respite care if it hopes to keep the elderly out of institutional care.”

It would appear that until these issues are completely addressed, that the complications regarding Ontario’s home healthcare system will only continue to take place. Simply put, change needs to happen. But when or if it finally does, will it be too late?

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[SOURCE: The Globe and Mail]

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