Province caps domestic services for home care
Lack of clarity has caused public concern, health minister says
A cap on household management hours under the provincial home care program will bring Newfoundland and Labrador in line with other jurisdictions across the country, Health Minister John Haggie said.
The policy change means those duties will now be limited to a maximum of two hours a day or 14 hours a week, Haggie told The Southern Gazette Thursday.
The change was seen to be a “sensible rationalization” of the service, he said.
“What we’ve done is introduce a guideline based on our own review,” Haggie said.
“The average use of homemaking services under the home support program was actually just about two hours a day, so we thought that was the reasonable place to put a cap for dusting, cleaning and meal preparation – domestic kind of activities.
“This is not related to any specific care needs the client might have in terms of supervision or personal care.”
The home care support program completes a review of needs and hours for all clients annually, usually through a home visit, Haggie said, adding the cap is being incorporated into that assessment.
“So it will roll out over the next little while with the idea that it’ll be completed by Oct. 1 of this year for everybody who’s on home support.”
During last year’s review, it was discovered some people were receiving 20 hours a day of homemaking services, Haggie said, acknowledging some of that was likely a coding issue.
Haggie said it’s possible some individuals may require more than the cap allows for household management services, and those instances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
The cap on homemaking services was brought up during last week’s council meeting in Grand Bank with Mayor Rex Matthews saying he had recently heard from concerned seniors.
Matthews also said BurinGrand Bank MHA Carol Anne Haley had written the minister to express her own concerns, telling Haggie her office had been flooded with calls.
Haggie said he had spoken to Haley and clarified the process that is occurring. The Department of Health has also been fielding calls, he said.
“I think what’s happening at the moment is that people are getting a phone call saying they’re having their home care hours reviewed. I think that fact of a review makes some people nervous, particularly in light of the kind of discussions that have gone on in the press and the media around the budget being severe and that kind of thing,” Haggie said.
“The facts of the case are this is regular process that happens each year. I think people have just got heightened sensibilities because of the political background and the fiscal situation were in.”
Haggie said a letter has been sent to all program workers to clarify the change with MHAs receiving a copy as well.
John Haggie is the provincial minister of health and community services.