By Wendy King
The cure for hospital overcrowding is an expansion of home care, according to a provincial organization.
Over the Family Day weekend, Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre reported crisis levels in the Emergency Department according to ER doctor Monika Wolnik.
Sue VanderBent, CEO of Home Care Ontario, says it can be of huge benefit to any Ontario hospital and long term care facility if they were funded properly.
The agency offers nursing, therapy and personal support in the patient’s home.
VanderBent said they are asking the province for $600 million in funding in the next budget which is a 1 percent increase.
"The meagre funding is not working,” said VanderBent
“We’ve been kept to 5 percent of the entire health care budget - $54 billion - and that level hasn’t changed in 20 years despite the fact it is a very different world. Baby boomers are aging and living longer but with more complex health problems. We are dealing with more people but having to ration time with each client.”
Statistics from the organization suggest within 10 to 15 years one in four Canadians will be over 65 years of age.
Along with more money, the agency is hoping for a comprehensive recruitment and retention strategy for staff.
“Home care can relieve pressure on hospitals where many patients are occupying hospital beds when they could and should be in the comfort of their own homes. Families go in desperation to the emergency room when they, as caregivers, have burned out and don’t know where else to turn. Hospitals run out of beds but can’t discharge a patient without knowing the person has a safety net."
Often there are long waiting lists for institutional care VanderBent says and so patients take up hospital beds and the backlog continues.
She goes on “we can stabilize people in their home community but we need help. Ontario needs to plan for the future.”
Home Care Ontario is asking residents to log onto morehomecare.ca to sign a letter and forward concerns to their local MPP.
The provincial budget will be handed down March 28