LONDON, ON – In an effort to deal with a 33 per cent spike in the demand for home care, and inadequate provincial funding for services, the South West Community Care Access Centre (SW-CCAC) is resorting to cutting care for some ill patients and denying care to others altogether, charged community care staff represented by the Canadian Union Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, at a London media conference today.
Mark Kruger, with CUPE 101 and a worker at the local agency, said the SW-CCAC – which services patients in a large geographic area from London to Grey/Bruce – is “coping as best as it can with the upsurge in patient referrals, but is struggling.”
With thousands of hospital beds being closed, patients are being pushed out of hospital sicker and faster; the provincial government has touted home and community care as the back-up plan.
“But what the province isn’t telling the public is that community services are underfunded. There just isn’t enough home care for the thousands of people who need it,” said Heather Duff with CUPE Ontario and a CCAC worker in Ottawa.
To deal with the provincial funding shortfall, the SW-CCAC, like CCACs in eastern Ontario and the Windsor area, has raised the criteria for patients to qualify for home care services.
“In essence, CCACs are disqualifying ill people from getting home care using an assessment tool. They are making it harder for the sick to get the home care that they need and were promised when they left hospital or convalescent care,” said Duff.
Many families whose loved ones need home care are filling the void by providing care themselves, or are hiring a personal support worker privately at significant cost.
“There is increasing informal caregiver distress. As less services are available, informal caregivers are more likely to suffer from depression, anger, or distress. Ill patients are suffering without service, while others have their hours reduced. Families and informal caregivers are also being affected. The health minister must recognize that patients and their families are suffering as a result of these cuts,” said Duff.
Compounding the problem, 20 SW-CCAC jobs, including 11.5 CUPE jobs are being cut, said Kruger.
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