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With Premier Doug Ford preparing to shake up Ontario’s health system and promising to tackle hospital overcrowding, home care providers see an opportunity. 

The umbrella group Home Care Ontario will launch a campaign Thursday called «End Hallway Healthcare.» The group of for-profit and non-profit agencies will pitch home care as an affordable solution to the province’s chronically overstretched supply of hospital beds.

The providers argue that spending more on publicly-funded home care can help reduce the need for hospital admissions and help patients who are admitted get out of acute care more quickly.

«If we gave more anticipatory home care and more protective home care that prevented people from having to go into the hospital or the [emergency room] in a situation where they didn’t need to, we could reduce a lot of health care costs,» said Sue Vanderbent, CEO of Home Care Ontario, in an interview Wednesday. 

«People recover better at home, so the faster we can get people home, the better,» said Vanderbent.  «We need to have a robust home care system to be able to do that.»

On any given day, some 4,000 patients in Ontario hospitals don’t actually require an acute-care bed. Many of those are waiting for a spot in long-term care or home-care services. 

Many officials in the health sector believe those «alternate level of care» patients are at the root of the hallway medicine problem, and boosting home care is at least part of the answer. 

«They could be recovering in the comfort of their own home — if only they had access to a professional home care worker. We need to bring more care out of the hallway and into the home,» says Home Care Ontario’s advocacy website, which will urge people to contact their MPPs. 

The home-care providers believe Ford’s PC government, in its drive to cut costs, will be interested in shifting spending from pricey hospital rooms to far cheaper home care. 

February 15, 2019

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