Put home-care focus back on sick and elderly

Posted on September 25, 2015 in Health Delivery System

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorials – Almost 40 per cent of the $2.4 billion the province of Ontario spends on home and community care goes to bureaucracy, not patient care.
Sep 24 2015.   Editorial

The alarm bells signalling that Ontario’s home care agencies are a mess — depriving patients of much-needed care while fattening the wallets of senior executives and administrators — have been ringing for years.

As far back as 2010, an auditor general’s report found that 11 of the 14 Community Care Access Centres, which arrange for at-home and community health-care support, had more than 10,000 people waiting for services.

Meanwhile, 50,000 patients remained in hospital longer than necessary because ongoing care could not be arranged for them either at home or in the community.

We now know those patients weren’t suffering solely for a lack of money. The CCACs are funded to the tune of $2.4 billion a year. The problem, according to a report released by Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk on Wednesday, is that almost 40 per cent of those taxpayer dollars go to administration, not patient care.

In other words, the real sickness lies not in a lack of funding, but in how the CCACs are managed by the province.

That is unconscionable. And as a series of columns by the Star’s Bob Hepburn on CCACs, that foreshadowed Lysyk’s findings, found:

– It is unconscionable that ill and elderly patients are on waiting lists or deprived of necessary health treatments while CEOs of the agencies have seen their salaries rise as much as 50 to 144 per cent – with some top executives earning nearly $300,000 a year.
– It is unconscionable that, by contrast, most personal support workers make less than $20,000 a year.
– It is unconscionable that ill patients are forced out of hospitals “sicker and quicker” when the community agencies that are supposed to care for them don’t have the health-care staffing to do so.
– And it is unconscionable that Health Minister Eric Hoskins and his predecessor, Deb Matthews, did not resolve these issues earlier, despite the years of warnings.

Where’s the urgency? The government has heard complaints from patients, organizations and front-line health care workers for years. None of this is new.

In 2013, an independent accountant, David Williams, said he thought the CCACs were spending only 65 per cent of their budgets on patient care. Yet at the time his estimates were contradicted by the then-CEO of the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres, Sharon Baker, who insisted that 91.3 cents of each dollar went to patient care. That was a figure backed up by former health minister Deb Matthews. We now know the real number is only 61 cents.

How far off the mark could they have been? Now the new association CEO, Catherine Brown, is defending the money going to administration, saying: “The work to assess, consult with other professionals and pull together the right care is an essential, direct component of patient care.”

As essential and direct as actual face-to-face patient care? We think not.

The true face of this mismanagement of taxpayer funds can be found in the stories of the patients denied care who had to resort to public fundraising events to help pay for services just to help them walk, use their hands, speak and swallow.

Or those such as a war veteran suffering from Parkinson’s disease, whose nursing services were simply cut off because a computer program deemed them unnecessary.

If we are going to care for the ill and elderly at home and in the community, rather than in more expensive hospitals and long-term care homes, we must ensure the care is there for them now. Not years from now.

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2015/09/24/put-home-care-focus-back-on-sick-and-elderly-editorial.html >

Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Friday, September 25th, 2015 at 11:38 am and is filed under Health Delivery System. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Response to “Put home-care focus back on sick and elderly”

  1. The new CEO Catherine Brown states that working to assess, consult and pull together the right care is directly part of patient care but it is not. From a 2.4 billion dollar budget, 936 million won’t be reaching the patients. In 1995, the Mike Harris government encouraged the privatization of government responsibilities and he promoted a “better, cheaper and faster” notion of doing things. Many of CCAC services are contracted out to the lowest bidder and at times are re-contracted out once again. These companies are profit driven and are paying their employee’s the minimum amount possible for the work to be done.
    The province needs to regain ownership and restructure how homecare services are provided. On the CCAC website for the Northeast, it states that when waitlists exists, it’s usually due to a limited resource to provide the service. If we eliminated privatization, CCAC would have more funds to fulfill these gaps and more money would go directly towards the patients.


Leave a Reply