Public to rate home-care centres on new website – Ontario – Public to rate home-care centres on new website
December 16, 2008. Tanya Talaga, QUEEN’S PARK BUREAU

The Ontario government wants the public to gauge the quality of home care on a website that should be up and running next fall.

Health Minister David Caplan announced a host of home-care reforms yesterday in an effort to better provide services to 600,000 Ontarians. Community Care Access Centres will now have teams able to match clients with workers best-equipped to care for their medical conditions. Those with Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes will be cared for by providers specifically trained to manage those illnesses, he said.

“This home-care strategy will ensure that the client comes first,” Caplan said.

The centres will also be given expanded roles. They will be able to manage the placement of people into programs such as adult day programs or facilities such as supportive housing. Centres will also provide more services like diagnostic and respiratory therapy, and offer nursing and other treatment services in groups.

The competitive bidding process will be restarted with a focus on quality first, not cost, said Caplan. Home-care agencies that get favourable scores from their clients could be awarded with lucrative 9-year contracts. “It is now a value-based competition,” he said. “Here the patient wins.”

Also, fairness advisers – neutral third parties – will be used for all requests for proposals for service providers.

This is the first time public reporting and quality measures for home care have been set up in Canada, Caplan added. “The fall of next year is when we expect to launch what the indicators will be and begin tracking so we’ll be able to see … improvement month over month,” he said.

As the population ages, the roles of community care centres should be expanded, said Tom Closson, president of the Ontario Hospital Association. “For seniors, there is a huge issue of do we have the right mix of capacity of services,” he said. There are nearly 5,000 people in hospitals that are currently in the wrong place, said Closson.

Posting quality indicators made a “big impact” in hospitals and doing it in other parts of the system will also kick-start improvements, he said.

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