2/13/13

Home care funding falls short - of even aging cost pressures?



The Ontario government likes to suggest that the planned annual 4% nominal increase in "home and community care" funding will offset their cuts to hospital services and squeeze on long term care beds.

But it's not totally clear that this funding will offset cost pressures on home and community care arising from the rapid growth in the elder population -- never mind growth in the entire population,  never mind inflation, never mind unmet home care needs, never mind hospital cuts, never mind the squeeze on long term care beds.

The Ontario Ministry of Finance estimates that those aged 85 and over will increase 18.8% in the four years from 2012 to 2016. That equals a 4.4% annual average increase. The 90 and over portion of that group will increase much more: 35.1%. That's almost 8% per year.

This is relevant to the cost pressures on home care as this age group requires an awful lot of home care. A December 2012 Statistics Canada report indicates that 54% of the population 85 and older report receiving formal or informal home care in 2009.  The study indicates that this probably under-estimates the actual use of home care (and that half  of those who reported receiving home care report receiving only informal home care  -- e.g. from a spouse).

There is also significant population growth for elders 65 to 84 years (15% over 4 years) -- and this group also reports a high use of home care (albeit much less than the 85 and older group).

Notably, the Stats Can study notes that 4.1% of all elders (and 6.7% of elders 85 and older) report unmet home care needs. It adds: "Close to two-thirds (63%) of seniors with unmet needs for formal care attributed them to personal circumstances, such as inability to pay; 24% cited features of the health care system, including lack of service availability; and the remaining 13% mentioned a combination of both".

Finally, the study notes that those elderly with disabilities, or with personal care or mobility issues, report much more frequently that they have unmet home care needs (10% of those with a severe disability, 20% of those with personal care issues, and 29% of those with mobility issues).
 
Photo by Squishband

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