CHATHAM, Ont. – Despite severe mobility issues and a history of kidney problems, Anne Howley’s 84-year old mom Joyce only receives three, half-hour home care visits a week from the Erie St. Clair Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). Howley’s and her mom’s story, is one of several dozen compelling stories left by residents from communities between Windsor and London on a home care patient hotline number, set up by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, late in 2014.
CUPE initiated the hotline following widespread reports – across southwestern and eastern Ontario – of significant home care cuts for patients already receiving supports and the outright denial of services for thousands more.
At a media conference in Chatham today, Howley said she decided to call the hotline and speak publicly about her mother’s need for additional home care, because the province isn’t funding home care to meet the needs of patients and “my sister and I are afraid, mom will lose the small amount of support for bathing she now receives.”
Howley who lives in London Ontario shares caring for her mom with her sister who travels to Chatham from Michigan. In addition to working and caring for their own families, the sisters do the laundry, housekeeping and grocery shopping for their mom and her husband who has a cognitive impairment.
With a provincial plan to continue to cut hospital beds and services and not increase the number of long-term care beds available, across the province, the demand for home care is rising rapidly.
“The government claims home care will offset hospital and LTC cuts, but they aren’t even providing the same level of home supports to individual patients as they were a year ago,” said Michael Hurley, CUPE Ontario first vice-president, at the media conference today.
In eastern Ontario where she works, Heather Duff said few patients have had their home care hours restored following significant service cuts by the Champlain CCAC. In the meantime, Duff said, “the wait list for supports grows. Some patients will have been on the waitlist for upwards of nine-ten months.”
Howley made an emotional appeal to the health minister to invest in all parts of Ontario’s health system. This she said, includes restoring convalescent and chronic care beds in hospitals and funding home care at a much higher level to meet the growing need of patients who are being kept from getting care in both nursing homes and hospitals.
CUPE is encouraging home care patients and their families in southwest Ontario to call the hotline at 1-888-599-0770 and tell their story.
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