Accessing Home Healthcare in Ontario

Edited by Admin
Accessing Home Healthcare in Ontario

Home Healthcare

For the past two decades, Ontario has been moving basic healthcare needs away from hospitals and has been placing an emphasis on providing homecare. The basic idea is sound: that people will be able to access care while remaining in their own homes, where they will be cared for by a network of community-based home healthcare providers.


There are fourteen Community Care Access Centres in the province. Local CCACs offer services that may include medical care from nurses or physiotherapists, or personal care and support from PSWs (personal support workers). Services may vary depending on what part of the province that you live in. There are limits to the number of hours of care that any one individual can receive: for people who need the highest levels of care, the maximum level of nursing service is forty-three hours of care within a one-week period. For personal support services, the maximum amount of care a CCAC can provide is eighty hours of service in the first month and sixty hours for the following months.


However, at the same time as healthcare has been moving into the home, the large baby-boomer population has been aging, and many of our senior citizens now require daily care. This situation has created a demand for home care that’s stretching many community care organizations to the limits – in the Central region alone, Community Care Access Centre workers see 30,000 clients each and every day.


A System Under Pressure

Due to the increased demand for medical care and personal support workers, care can be inconsistent, and accessing it can require the skills to navigate a heavily bureaucratic system. Frail seniors often find themselves without sufficient hours of care, while CCAC workers are overworked and overscheduled. Untrained family members may be pressed into service dressing wounds or tending IV lines; clients may be kept waiting for nurses or workers who are late due to their heavy workload. In addition, PSWs assigned to the case may change from day to day so that each time one arrives, the client has to describe his or her condition, needs, and preferences over again. Some healthcare workers are friendly and treat the client with respect, others must rush through their tasks before they have to leave for the next client. In virtually all cases, clients do not receive enough time with a caregiver.


Given the patchwork of services, the compromised health of the clients, and the high demand for care, it’s inevitable that mistakes are made and that injuries occur. These include slip-and-fall accidents when seniors are getting in or out of the bath, falls when transferring from wheelchair to bed, errors in medication dosages, or improper treatment of wounds. But when an injury occurs during home healthcare, who is responsible?


If you or a loved one has been injured while a home healthcare worker was tending to you, you may be able to make an insurance claim or bring legal action. Because the issues are complex and your position will depend on your own specific situation, contact a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. A good personal injury lawyer can assess your situation during a free consultation and advise you as to the best way forward.


Accessing the Best Care

The whole subject of homecare can create a fraught situation for families. Some seniors are reluctant to accept any help, fearing that it will mean the end of their independence. Some are not completely fluent in English, and find it difficult to navigate the system or deal with PSWs.


How can you be sure that your family member receives the best home healthcare? The key is to make sure that you are aware of all of the services available to you. When you contact your local CCAC, you can arrange a meeting with a care coordinator, a registered health professional who can assess the client’s needs and help you to create a care plan. This plan can include services from CCAC as well as from other community-based organizations. The services provided by CCAC might include social workers to help with social and/or mental health issues, nutritionists, nurse practitioners, or nurses to monitor conditions. Examples of other community services might include meals on wheels, transportation to and from medical appointments, day programs for adults, or help with housekeeping. (Some of these latter services may require a co-payment from you.)


Your care coordinator should be kept up-to-date with any changes and developments in your situation. When the time comes when it’s not possible for you or a family member to stay at home, the care coordinator can help you to apply for a long-term care facility.


Working together with your care coordinator can help you ensure that your family gets as much help as possible, allowing you or a family member to live in relative comfort at home. Advocate for your family, and access the care you or your loved one needs.