Patience is not a virtue
From the experience that I have had, there seems to be a big black hole between hospital discharge planners and home care providers. A lack of communication and not enough education prior to discharge results in complex patients being discharged home on a Friday afternoon with little or no planning or care coordination.”
This is not a new story. We have talked about better, more integrated home care for years now—and yet we still hear disturbing stories. Certainly, there have been improvements in a lot of constituencies (unless it is a Friday), but care and resources can differ depending on where you live, your doctor, who your kids know or your condition. As one family suggested to me after working with an outstanding palliative care team: “If you’re dying, you seem to get faster and better care than if you’re trying to stay alive.”
The latest figures show that 1.8 million Canadians receive publicly funded home care, with most of this (70 per cent) being delivered to seniors. The prevalence of disability rises from 4 per cent among 15- to 24-year-olds to 43 per cent for those aged 75 years or older. One in 10 Canadians of working age (15–64 years) lives with a disability; among seniors, it is 33 per cent.
We have known for years that the largest challenge that provincial, territorial and federal home care programs face is the impact that the older population living with frailty has on demand and service complexity. Still, we write new action plans with uncanny regularity. Caregivers have been renamed “carers” without any action to rid them of unnecessary burdens and scanty resources. And talk of improving accessibility, inclusion and customer service in the health care and disability sector remains just that—talk. The pace of change must to be quickened. According to one recent plan in circulation, Better Home Care in Canada: A National Action Plan (thehomecareplan.ca), we deserve better. The plan’s vision again calls for seamless availability of home care and support services when and where they are needed, empowering families and carers with shared access to records and plans, and plenty more.
Canadians should not be suffering without dignity at home, waiting in hospital hallways for hours or getting sent home at risk and without support. Loved ones should not have to sort out disorganized care services or confusing instructions. We need accountable, integrated and sustainable care…a fix so that those of us in the media who care can tell happier stories.
Is anybody listening?
Caroline Tapp-McDougall, Publisher