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Crisis patients see 203% increase in wait times for LTC beds

Yesterday, the Institute for  Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES -- funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and LTC) released a detailed study on seniors health care entitled Aging in Ontario.  The study reports a number of interesting results:

  • The number of Ontario seniors aged 85 and older increased by 36% over six years (2002-3 through 2008-9), This is more than any other age group in the adult population.  There was also a 13.7% increase in seniors 65 and over.
  • The number of acute care hospital beds per 100,000 Ontario seniors decreased (Quite significantly: from close to 1,000 beds to, perhaps, 850 beds -- D.A.).
  • The number of "ALC patients" (i.e. patients in acute care beds who no longer need acute care services) waiting for a bed at an LTC home (i.e. a nursing home) almost doubled between 2005/06 and 2008/09.
  • Patients in hospitals waited 55 days in the last quarter of 2008/09 for admittance to an LTC home. Those admitted from the community waited 153 days, while individuals transferring between LTC homes waited 203 days. 
  • The wait for an LTC bed increased 150% between 2003/4 and 2008/9 for individuals in hospital (an increase from 22 days to 55 days).  Individuals in the community saw a 122% increase in wait time (from 69 days to 153 days).
  • The wait time for an LTC bed for "crisis patients" (priority 1A) increased from 26 days to 79 days -- that's a 203% increase.
  • Wait times for "high need" (or priority 2) applicants increased from 50 days to 104 days, or 110% .
  • The annual number of LTC beds available increased early in the time period examined and then remained relatively constant.
  • The average wait time for home care service remained constant from 2005/06 to 2008/09.
  • At the start of 2008/09, 69% of those receiving home care were at low or moderate risk of being placed in an LTC facility, while 30% were at high or very high risk. The report suggests more should be at high or very high risk.
This report confirms that the creation of LTC beds has stalled, that gaining access to an LTC bed is taking much longer (especially for "crisis patients"), and that hospital patients are waiting in hospitals much longer for an LTC bed.  This is occurring while the number of elderly seniors is increasing at a rapid pace and while the number of acute care hospitals beds per 100,000 seniors is declining.

The study's data only goes up to 2008/9. As funding has been squeezed since then, the problems may well be worse now.  Home care, for example got significant funding increases during the period of this study.  But lately?  Not so much.


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