All Ontarians deserve fair and equitable access to home care
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.