Can we finally talk about .... "The H Word"​?

Image: Can we finally talk about .... "The H Word"​?

Spectrum's CEO Sandra Ketchen on why now is the crucial moment to talk about homecare.

Did you know there are 40,000 seniors in Canada waiting for beds in long-term care facilities?[1] New facilities can’t be built fast enough as the number of seniors in our population grows. And like my own parents, 83% of them would prefer to stay at home instead with care supports as required for as long as possible.[2]

So why aren’t we talking more about expanding homecare?

As of writing this brief, approximately 70% of COVID-related deaths in Ontario were residents in facility-based care.[3] But even before COVID-19, more than 1,500 long-term care residents across Canada died following infection from communicable diseases such as the seasonal flu in 2018, a “typical year”. [4] Outbreaks can be managed but are bound to happen in any congregate living setting.

Wouldn’t our seniors be safe at home with care, if that’s a viable option for them?

Did you know recent estimates indicate that LTC facility residents only actually receive 2.71 hours of direct bedside care per day?[5] Advocates have long championed for at least 4.1 hours of care. Homecare could provide this 4 hours of hands-on care without any incremental cost to the system. And even better, homecare could scale to provide up to 24 hours of care, depending on the changing needs of our patients and supported by remote monitoring or other technology solutions.

Don’t outcomes and economics motivate us to talk more about homecare expansion?

Homecare only receives $3B of the Ontario provincial healthcare budget of $63.5B - just 4.7%. [6] Moreover, the average personal support worker in homecare makes only 80% of the salary of their peer in facility care because of differences in funding models.[7] Should we be surprised when homecare workers often choose to leave for jobs in long-term care facilities or hospitals?

When our seniors age at home, their family caregivers are a critical part of the support circle. But if those caregivers are not properly supported themselves, especially when caring for patients with dementia, their burnout leads to decisions of facility placement, even if they know that’s not what their loved one wanted.

Wouldn’t caregivers want more access to homecare and keep their loved ones close?

Our seniors and their families want choice about where to age, how to age, and how to die.

Can we finally talk about homecare now?