ONTARIO - Far from being the “fix” to Ontario’s disjointed and under-resourced home care system, today’s announcement by the health minister for “self-directed” home care is “taking us further in the wrong direction,” says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
Rather than building a home care system based on the principles of universal access to care, “the Ontario Liberals are downloading the responsibility of home care provision to sick, vulnerable patients and their families, through a do-it-yourself approach that they are flogging as individual control and choice over care,” says CUPE Ontario health care committee chair Kelly O’Sullivan.
Under the “self-directed” care model, health minister Eric Hoskins announced this morning, families would be given a pot of money and they would be left to their devices to source and navigate a myriad of services in the community.
“Essentially what this amounts to is families already stressed by the lack of home care supports available in the community for their sick loved ones, taking on more unpaid work as care coordinators and managers. It is the exact opposite of what patients pushed out of hospitals need. They don’t need a marketplace where they hire their own personal support worker (PSW). They need longer, in-hospital care and increased access to public home care when they are discharged,” says Michael Hurley, president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
The model the Liberals are advocating has proven to be a disaster in the United Kingdom.
Since the mid-90s when not-for-profit home care delivery was replaced by for-profit providers, home care in Ontario has become a “nightmare for patients. It’s confusing, complex and under-resourced. Regrettably, families exasperated with dealing with it may be tempted to try this new ‘self-directed care’,” says O’Sullivan.
The 80,000 new care hours announced today are a “drop in the bucket. This falls far short of what’s actually needed to increase patient care. If it weren’t so sad that patients pushed out of hospital sicker than ever need every little bit of additional home care provided, the increase in care hours would be laughable,” says Hurley.
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