New Provincial Organization Fails to Address Fundamental Supply and Demand Challenges
November 15, 2017 - This month, the Ontario government revealed details regarding a new provincial organization which has been created to deliver personal support services to home care clients. Not-for-profit providers warn it misses the mark in terms of solving the real challenges of the home care system.
The Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) is expressing concern on behalf of Ontario’s not-for-profit home care and community support services providers, which employ thousands of personal support workers (PSWs) who deliver frontline care in clients’ homes. These organizations are trusted in their communities, and have been delivering high-quality home and community care for decades.
According to the government, the new crown organization will initially operate in three or four of the province’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), and serve just a few thousand clients who qualify. The stated goals of the project include increasing clients’ control over their care by allowing them to select and schedule their own PSWs.
Though these are laudable goals, the new agency was created without any consultation with existing home care providers, which means the government is acting with an incomplete understanding of the challenges of serving the population.
There are two major factors which limit the current system’s ability to provide this kind of flexibility: a growing shortage of qualified PSWs in some parts of the province, and scheduling challenges because the vast majority of home care clients prefer care early in the morning and before bed.
As described, the new agency would encounter all the same challenges facing existing providers, while adding an additional layer of complexity to the home care system. No information has been provided regarding how the new agency might realistically allow clients to schedule their own PSWs without facing human resources shortages or creating precarious conditions for workers.
OCSA is calling on the government to work collaboratively with existing home care providers to find meaningful and sustainable ways to improve increase choice and control for all home care clients, rather than just the tiny percentage who would qualify for the new program. These solutions include a strategy for the province-wide recruitment, retention and training of PSWs, and changes to existing funding models and levels, which seriously constrain home care agencies’ ability to offer flexible options to clients.
“Non-profit home care providers are eager to improve choice and control for clients and caregivers,” says Deborah Simon, OCSA CEO. “But in order to do that, we need to add more personal support workers to the system, not more employers.”
Across the province each year, over one million people receive home care and community support services – and the need is growing. The Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) represents 270 not-for-profit organizations that provide home care and community support services that help seniors and people with disabilities live independently in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. These compassionate and cost-effective services improve quality of life and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency room visits and premature institutionalization. They are the key to a sustainable health care system for Ontario. For more information, visit www.ocsa.on.ca.
Interviews are available with OCSA CEO Deborah Simon. For more information please contact:
Ontario Community Support Association
416-256-3010 x 242