Pressure is mounting on governments to boost home care funding, with Home Care Ontario recently calling for $600 million in additional annual funding for home care service providers.
The organization, which represents 40 agencies that deliver nursing and personal support worker (PSW) services, issued a report called Home Care for Me & You, urging Ontario’s government to increase the percentage of funding to the home care sector — unchanged in recent years at 5% — in the province’s total annual budget of $2.7 billion for health care.
An aging population with growing complex care needs is straining resources in the health care system. The organization notes that wait lists for home care are growing, home care providers are being obliged to make fewer and shorter visits, hospitals are overcrowded and the patient experience is poorer than in the past.
According to the report, the increased funding would pay for an extra 9 million PSW visits, 5.1 million more nursing visits and greater capacity to offer other services.
The outcomes of such increased funding would hugely benefit patients who choose to remain at home, as their PSWs could provide a more leisurely, caring and dignified experience. Seniors would be less isolated and enjoy a better quality of care, and enhanced home care would reduce their risk of being institutionalized.
The request for greater funding is one of 14 recommendations in the report. Home Care Ontario is also seeking to enhance its advocacy work through a new digital campaign to increase awareness of the issues facing some 28,000 professional caregivers who yearly provide home care to 730,000 Ontarians.
The CMA supports the call for increased investment in this critical cornerstone of the health care system. One of our Demand a Plan campaign recommendations is for the federal government to develop explicit guidelines for funding home care support. Private caregivers can be less productive at work, costing employers an estimated $5.5 billion annually, and they report high personal expenses, particularly if they live with the patient.
Cost and care should be evenly distributed from coast to coast to coast, allowing all Canadians to age worry-free. Ensuring private caregivers have the necessary resources, support and respite is vital to achieving that objective, as is increased funding for publicly funded service providers. Seniors would have a greater choice in models of care and environments, while having more disposable income for other essential living expenses.
Committing to providing seniors with quality health care in a location of their choice means meeting the demands of those who are helping to care for them.