Home care cutbacks AND hospital cutbacks in Ontario. The rationale for hospital cuts just keeps getting slimmer

The official theory from Deb Matthews, the Ontario Minister of Health and LTC, is that hospital services can be cut because so much more community care is being offered (for more on this see here and here.)  So it was interesting to see a Toronto Star column today reporting that home care services have been cut:

So Community Care Access Centres (CCACs), the government agencies charged with coordinating health services in the province, have been forced to refer only the most needy cases for help. That means other outpatients who need services such as occupational therapy or speech-language therapy must go without or pay by themselves for private service. Evidence of the cuts is clear:
• Home visits by occupational therapists dropped 24 per cent in the 2008-09 fiscal year over the same period a year earlier.
• Visits by physiotherapists were down 9 per cent.
• Visits by dieticians were off 2 per cent.
• Visits by speech-language pathologists plunged a whopping 40 per cent, from 461,484 in the 2007-08 fiscal year to 274,068 visits in the last year.

The for-profit home care providers are squawking.  The Star reports that many of the private home care firms are struggling to survive, laying off staff to stay afloat.   In response to the sharp decline in patient referrals, the organization of for-profit home care companies will hold a round table meeting of all its members in September to address the squeeze to home care.  

A useful start might be the elimination of profit from the home care system to free up a bit more for patient care.


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