Media has recently turned on the Ontario healthcare system with stories of bureaucratic bumbling, excessive executive compensatiion and the Conservative's call for a review on the Community Care Access Centres known as the CCAC. As hospital costs continue to rise and the population ages, everyone agrees that home care is an important part of the solution.
Many also agree that the Ontario Liberals have assigned a high priority to our aging population and it's increased demands on limited healthcare resouces. So much so that they like to talk about it a lot. All this talk of home care brings to mind a famous quote about the weather.
"Everybody Talks About the Weather, But Nobody. Does Anything About It."
In an article entitled "Momentum building to review Ontario's community care access centres", Jonathan Sher, of The London Free Press wrote and published an iteresting piece in the Chattam Daily News on Sunday March 2, that suggests change might be within the foreseeble future.
With momentum building to review home care in Ontario, that issue will land front and centre on the next government, an expert says.
“I expect it will happen,” said Michael Decter, who, as a former Ontario deputy health minister, once ran one of the continent’s largest health care systems.
Ontario’s opposition Conservatives and New Democrats are demanding a review or audit after The Free Press reported how CEO salaries had more than doubled, with money desperately needed on the front lines.
Their push has met no resistance from the Liberal government or the agencies that oversee home care, called community care access centres (CCACs).
“In politics, when no one is opposed, things happen,” Decter said.
While CEO salaries have drawn the spotlight, any review needs to also look at who writes the cheques, the health ministry and local health integration networks, said Michelle Gatt, who’s worked for a CCAC, advocated for families seeking help and helped run retirement and nursing homes in the London region.
“(Otherwise) we’re looking under the wrong rock,” Gatt said Friday.
Gatt believes care has suffered in the past decade because those who manage it have been swamped by an ever-growing number of patients.
When she was a case manager a decade ago, she looked after the needs of about 20 patients, but that caseload has since doubled, even tripled.
The explosive growth has left even well-meaning care coordinators with little time to meet patients or carefully plan their care, said Gatt, who started working as a patient advocate in 2007 with a company she created, Seniors Access.
“A lot of families have major issues with the system and the government isn’t listening to them,” Gatt said.
If there is a review, it remains to be seen the form it takes.The Tories want the auditor general to take the lead, while the NDP has called for the legislature to take the initiative.
It’s quite possible the province could so both, said Decter, since an audit can produce results that trigger legislative hearings or vice-versa.
While it’s true the auditor general reviewed home care in 2010, much has changed since, Decter said, with CCACs providing care themselves, a dubious role for agencies set up to select communities groups to provide care.
— What: Community Care Access Centres
— Created in 1996 by Conservative government
— Reduced in 2007 from 43 to 14 by Liberal government
— Find care outside hospitals, in homes or community; place people in nursing homes.
— Growing budget to keep people out of costly hospital care; now $2.2 billion.