Better home care would help wait times – Opinion – Better home care would help wait times
February 22, 2009

Re: Province to cut ER waits, Feb. 20

I am baffled about the reason the Ontario government is continuing to use millions of dollars to treat the symptoms of a critical illness in our system (i.e. ER wait times), rather than addressing the cause.

It has been proven that there is a correlation between the emergency room length of stay and the number of patients in hospital waiting for nursing home beds. We know there are not enough nursing home beds to accommodate these frail, chronically ill seniors. But we also know that most seniors would rather live in their own home than in an institution. Unfortunately, our home-care system is grossly inadequate to support this.

Currently, unless assistance with bathing or other basic personal care needs are required, most frail older adults in their own homes do not quality for any personal home-care supports. And if they do qualify, they are lucky if they are granted more than one hour of personal care per week. That leaves 167 hours per week for them to fall and break a hip, become dehydrated or malnourished, or forget their medications – and end up in the ER.

ER wait times will be drastically reduced if funding for home-based services is increased. Increasing the number of hospital and nursing home beds will help but who wants to live out their remaining days in a nursing home if given the choice?

Michele Patterson, Oakville

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