Help coming for those on home-care waiting list

Posted on February 11, 2012 in Health Delivery System

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Published On Fri Feb 10 2012.    Rob Ferguson, Queen’s Park Bureau

Facing continued criticisms about 10,000 people on waiting lists for home care, Health Minister Deb Matthews says changes are coming to get help to more people.

Industry observers complain too much money is going into administrative costs and not into front-line care for patients coming out of hospital, the elderly and infirm needing assistance in their homes.

Money from home care filters down from the health ministry to local health integration networks and then community-care access centres that handle requests for care from the public before funding gets to agencies with nurses, personal support workers and other staff providing services to patients.

“That’s four tiers of administration before a penny gets to the front-line workers,” Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition said Friday.

Matthews said she is aware of the need for improvement in the services offered.

“We have some work to do at the community level to make sure we’re getting the best value for the money we spend,” Matthews acknowledged as former TD Bank economist Don Drummond prepares to release a massive report next Wednesday on restructuring government to cut costs.

Auditor General Jim McCarter took the government to task in his 2010 annual report for its $2 billion-a-year home-care system, which serves about 616,000 people annually and is intended to keep Ontarians out of hospitals and nursing homes, where care is more expensive.

McCarter found administrative and case management costs totalled 30 per cent of the home-care budget and that some areas of the province had twice as much money to spend per patient than others, which meant levels of service varied widely depending on where patients live.

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