TORONTO – Four major home care providers are urging the Ontario government to increase support for their sector, saying it will reduce the pressure on the health care system that is burdened with COVID-19.
Companies – Beshore Healthcare, Closing the Gap Healthcare, Van Canada, and SE Health – enhance home care that allows long-term care homes and hospitals to operate more efficiently.
The group launched a campaign today for their support.
The COVID-19 transmission rates in home care settings are much lower than compound care, says the CEO of Closing the Gap Healthcare.
By focusing on community-care, Leighton McDonald said the province will help keep more people safe from the virus.
According to regional data by the height of the first wave of COVID-19 until the end of May, there were 235 virus cases related to home care, compared to 4,518 in long-term care homes.
“What did not happen at the beginning of the epidemic was that home care was not seen as a critical alternative to most institutional care,” McDonald said.
“If that happened, we’d see a lot of people paying attention outside of dangerous settings.”
McDonald said the coalition hopes to build public support for increased wages and stability for workers in the home care sector, who will be paid less than their counterparts in hospitals and long-term care.
“We want to see more people on full-time salaries and have sustainable employment so that they can really earn a living and work with an employer,” he said.
Dr. Sameer Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Sinai Health System and University Health Network, has been arguing for years for a comprehensive change to the home care system.
Sinha said more than 38,000 Ontarians were on the waiting list to take part in long-term care because they did not have adequate access to home care.
But the cost to look after those in long-term care is $ 180 per day, and $ 103 per day in the home care system.
“When we don’t have enough home and community care it puts incredible pressure on our hospitals and it creates incredible pressure on the nursing home system, which is expensive to implement,” he said.
Sinha said keeping COVID-19 away from the compound care settings that killed more than 1,830 people during the epidemic was an important strategy that would help the province solve long-term care and capacity issues in hospitals.
Barbara Weigelt, a Hamilton resident, and her 78-year-old husband received home care services and supported calls to boost the sector.
Weigelt said her husband had had health problems for many years, including heart surgery and stroke. With the support of a registered nurse at home, and with hours of on-call care, they were able to manage.
“I think of it as a lifesaver,” she says. “I don’t think we could have managed without that opportunity.”
This report of the Canadian Press was first published on October 1, 2020.
The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.