Home care needs support of front-line staff to succeed: Aylward

Stratford – Improving home care services is an important goal and recently announced funding for home care raises questions about what the future of that service could look like because frontline staff weren’t fully engaged, says Opposition Leader James Aylward.

“Home care services are vital to the health and well-being of Islanders. Home care gives patients the supports they need to recover at home, reduces operating costs and allows for better flow of patients within our hospitals and clinics. Home is also a familiar environment resulting in reduced stress for the patient. With an aging population demand for effective home care services will only grow in the future so we need to make the right long-term investments that will improve timely access for Islanders,” says Aylward.

On January 31, 2017, the provincial and federal governments announced agreement on a bilateral agreement for new multi-year investments in home care and mental health services. During the spring of 2017 the province announced that proceeds from the Health Accord would fund the creation of mental health teams in Island schools. On February 13, 2018, the province announced plans to use proceeds from the Health Accord to fund targeted home care interventions delivered by paramedics from Island EMS.

While Aylward welcomes new investments to a long time chronically under-resourced service like home care he does wonder why it took over a year to develop new home care initiatives. New funding for home care of $820,000 was included in the Health Accord for the current 2017/18 fiscal year yet the new programs announced are still being developed and won’t be operational for several months, according to the province.

“Too often we’re seeing government roll out new programs and services in a top-down approach that ignores valuable input from stakeholders and frontline staff. It’s also becoming a pattern for this government to announce programs without the details worked out first. We’ve seen it with the Grandparents as Caregivers program and now with home care. My approach would be to work with those who need the enhanced services, focus on a needs-based approach and make sure that the frontline staff like home care workers, nurses, and other health professionals all have input into shaping new programs and services,” says Aylward.

Aylward also noted the lack of public tendering for this new delivery model and the challenges of blending public and private delivery of care which has heightened concerns about future privatization of home care services that frontline health care providers are voicing to him.