All On­tar­i­ans de­serve fair and eq­ui­table ac­cess to home care

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - VICKI MCKENNA Vicki McKenna is the pro­vin­cial Pres­i­dent of the On­tario Nurses’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

There are thou­sands of On­tar­i­ans who rely on home-care ser­vices each day. Af­ter all, re­ceiv­ing care and per­sonal sup­port in the home en­ables peo­ple to leave hos­pi­tal more quickly and re­cover at home, re­main in­de­pen­dent and out of long-term care for as long as pos­si­ble, and in some cases, re­ceive pal­lia­tive care at home so they can die with dig­nity.

Cen­tral to the home-care sys­tem are the 4,000 reg­is­tered nurses, nurse prac­ti­tion­ers and health-care pro­fes­sion­als who work as care co-or­di­na­tors.

These knowl­edge­able, ded­i­cated peo­ple work tire­lessly to de­ter­mine the care needs of pa­tients and re­ceive the ap­pro­pri­ate needs as­sess­ments, health care and sup­port.

Care co-or­di­na­tors pro­vide sup­port to a broad range of On­tar­i­ans, from our el­derly to chil­dren new moms and their ba­bies. They ar­range place­ment in long-term care for their clients and pro­vide home and com­mu­nity care ser­vices. They also pro­vide ser­vice to vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions.

As the pro­vin­cial govern­ment dis­man­tles the way the health-care sys­tem in On­tario func­tions and moves to On­tario Health Teams, it is vi­tal that the nurses who work as care co-or­di­na­tors and as part of di­rect care teams, be pro­tected.

The nurses used to work for Com­mu­nity Care Ac­cess Cen­tres (CCACs), un­til the pre­vi­ous govern­ment merged them into the prov­ince’s 14 Lo­cal Health In­te­gra­tion Net­works (LHINs). Now, the prov­ince in­tends to move away from a stan­dard­ized model for home care and cre­ate a de­cen­tral­ized sys­tem.

Care co-or­di­na­tors and di­rect care teams will soon find them­selves part of a num­ber of On­tario Health Teams — pos­si­bly all op­er­at­ing un­der in­con­sis­tent co­or­di­na­tion.

For trans­for­ma­tion-weary nurses, this is yet an­other in­stance in which the po­ten­tial for chaos and in­creased pa­tient risk is in the cards.

While the govern­ment prom­ises that its changes will ad­dress a frag­mented health-care sys­tem and end hall­way medicine, nurses know that the op­po­site may re­sult.

The On­tario Nurses’ As­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents the ma­jor­ity of these Care co-or­di­na­tors and di­rect care team mem­bers, urges this govern­ment to act now to en­sure these highly skilled pro­fes­sion­als are pro­tected as the tran­si­tion be­gins. To fail to do so will leave pa­tients re­quir­ing home care at risk of los­ing the care, knowl­edge and ded­i­ca­tion of our Care co-or­di­na­tors and di­rect care team mem­bers.

While the govern­ment’s “low-rules en­vi­ron­ment” for the soon-to-be cre­ated On­tario Health Teams may leave room for cre­ativ­ity, it also leaves room for risk. All On­tar­i­ans de­serve fair and eq­ui­table ac­cess to home care, and spe­cial at­ten­tion needs to be paid to pro­tect the ser­vices these nurses and health­care providers con­trib­ute.


Ef­fec­tive home care for thou­sands of On­tar­i­ans is at risk un­less the pro­vin­cial govern­ment pro­tects care co-or­di­na­tors, writes Vicki McKenna of the On­tario Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion.

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