Fixing Ontario’s Home Care System

Patient Canada’s Vice Chair, Francesca Grosso recently wrote an op-ed piece in the Toronto Star on fixing Ontario’s home care system. 

Over the Christmas holidays, Francesca’s mom was almost killed by a simple bladder infection that everyone knew was festering. In this op-ed piece, Francesca’s experience with her mom confirms her belief that home care needs to be made easier to access with clearer accountability and direct contact with the physician.

From the op-ed piece:

Local Health Integrated Networks, or LHINs (government Crown agencies), should not be involved in any aspect of providing home care. I’ve come to experience that the LHINs just aren’t good at it.

Home care in Ontario has been turneed into a bureaucratized system, unintenionally designed to fail. 

Here’s how it works: A hospital or doctor orders home care through the LHIN. A LHIN “care coordinator” conducts an assessment with the patient to determine which services, supplies, and how much care you are eligible to receive on the public dime. If a test is ordered in the home, the LHIN is in charge of ordering the test.

The wait time to get the assessment is often the longest in the home care journey and delays care sometimes by weeks. In fact, a year ago, mom waited three weeks in hospital for an assessment by the LHIN that essentially concluded she required the community care that the surgeons had recommended weeks earlier. During that time, mom caught hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Once the LHIN completes the assessment, the patient is handed off to a home care organization which dispatches nurses and/or personal support workers to the home. They are only allowed to provide the services ordered by the LHINs whether or not they meet with the reality of the patient’s needs. Do you need help being fed tonight instead of a bath? Sorry, that wasn’t approved by the LHIN. Goodbye.

To read the entire op-ed piece, please click here.