Un­met needs: More rea­sons to stay healthy and not rely on the Sys­tem

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey richard@glen­gar­rynews.ca

We are con­stantly telling our­selves that we must adopt, and main­tain, healthy life­styles. Eat right, ex­er­cise, get lots of sleep, avoid stress, floss.

The value of stay­ing fit is ev­i­dent when­ever an eval­u­a­tion of the Health Sys­tem is re­leased.

The lat­est check-up comes from the Cham­plain re­gion Community Care Ac­cess Cen­tre and the Lo­cal Health In­te­gra­tion Net­work, which note that the de­mand for home care has been greater than the avail­able fund­ing could pro­vide.

“To help man­age the de­mand for its ser­vices, the CCAC has sought ways to im­prove ef­fi­ciency and pri­or­i­tized higher-need clients. De­spite these ef­forts, an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple have been wait­ing to re­ceive home care ser­vices,” the LHIN says.

Key find­ings of a study in­clude con­fir­ma­tion that there is sub­stan­tial un­met need for home-care ser­vices in the Cham­plain re­gion, and it is pri­mar­ily due to in­equitable fund­ing.

Cur­rently, the LHIN re­ceives $240.5 mil­lion to fund home care ser­vices.

If the Cham­plain LHIN were funded for home-care us­ing a pop­u­la­tion-based model, it would re­ceive an ad­di­tional $31.5 mil­lion as its share of pro­vin­cial home-care in­vest­ments. If the fund­ing short­fall was ad­dressed, po­ten­tially 6,000 more home care clients would re­ceive home-care ser­vices.

Community sup­port ser­vices, which play a crit­i­cal role in home care by sub­sti­tut­ing and com­ple­ment­ing CCAC ser­vices, are also un­der-funded in Cham­plain rel­a­tive to other re­gions: 25 per cent per capita less than would be ex­pected.

Higher costs for con­tracted pa­tient care ser­vices in Cham­plain also con­trib­ute to un­met need. For ex­am­ple, the Cham­plain CCAC pays 14 per cent more than the pro­vin­cial av­er­age for nurs­ing ser­vices based largely on agree­ments with con­tracted ser­vice providers that were ne­go­ti­ated over 12 years ago. Higher rates mean that fewer ser­vices can be pro­vided.

In­ef­fi­ciency is not a prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to the report. The Cham­plain CCAC is very ef­fi­cient in ad­min­is­tra­tive costs. At seven per cent, its ad­min­is­tra­tive costs are less than the pro­vin­cial av­er­age.

The CCAC pro­vides more nurs­ing vis­its in clin­ics than the rest of the prov­ince -- 19 per cent, while the pro­vin­cial av­er­age is 14 per cent. When pa­tients are seen in a clinic set­ting in­stead of at home, the cost is about 50 per cent less be­cause nurses are sav­ing the time needed to travel and set up.

The report’s re­lease is timely. As of May 24, the CCAC is merg­ing with the Cham­plain LHIN, and the LHIN will con­tinue its cur­rent man­date while also de­liv­er­ing home and community care ser­vices.

In the com­ing months, the Cham­plain LHIN will re­view the report and its recommendations, and de­velop a list of pri­or­i­ties for ac­tion. While we hope to see a healthy in­jec­tion of money into our ser­vices some­time in the fu­ture, the most im­me­di­ate course of ac­tion for all of us is to take care of our­selves in or­der to avoid re­ly­ing on the Health Sys­tem.

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