Maureen Baldry’s 34 year old son Ryan Sparks has MS and needs round the clock support care . She has daytime PSW’s from CCAC as well as private homecare to enhance the services she gets.
Hamilton Spectator Maureen Baldry considers herself one of the lucky ones.
She receives 42 hours of homecare per week from the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) for her son Ryan, 34, who has multiple sclerosis and is blind and must be tube fed.
Five mornings a week a nurse also comes in from a private home health care service which costs her $800 a month. It’s a financial strain but it’s early morning care that’s difficult to find through the CCAC and it allows her to get to her job at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board office on time. The 42 hours of services she receives from the CCAC are well below the 90 hours allowed. She would also love to have help on evenings and weekends. Still, she says: “I feel like I’m really lucky with the stuff that I get. There are people in my MS support group who maybe get three hours a week.”
Patching together services from the CCAC, as well as private home health care agencies, is becoming more the norm as families struggle to help ailing family members stay in the home.
The demand for home health care has been growing since the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care increased the cap on homecare to 90 hours a month from 60 hours about a year and a half ago.
While the new cap pushed up the demand for services provided by CCAC, funding to provide those services failed to keep pace.
Yvonne Griggs, chief executive officer of Alert Best Nursing and homecare Solutions, said they’ve seen a 50 per cent increase in the area of staffing and homecare since the new policy came into effect. Families pay almost $24 an hour for a personal support worker who does meal preparations and help clients, who are mostly elderly, with bathing, exercises, and walking.
“If they don’t get enough hours from the CCAC we top them up,” Griggs said.
The local CCAC, which oversees homecare and long-term care, is so overwhelmed by demand for home-care services they’re carrying a $5-million deficit on their $233-million budget.
Barbara Busing, senior director of client services for the local CCAC, said they’re experiencing increased demand for home and community care services, both in terms of the number of people needing service and in the intensity of the service.
“Many of our clients have more complex needs than ever before,” Busing said. “Serving those with the greatest need within our funding envelope is a complicated balancing act.”
Provincial health critic Christine Elliott said the provincial government has been pushing health care away from hospitals and toward homecare services for years but are still failing to provide adequate homecare services.
Elliott said it’s creating a two-tier system where those who can afford more services get better care.
“What’s happening in Hamilton is indicative of what’s happening across the province. CCACs are being overwhelmed with requests for service,” Elliott said. “The whole situation is becoming rapidly worse. This is a group of people who deserve much better than what they’re getting.
“A lot of times we help them find out what else is available.”
Griggs said people sometimes call them who aren’t even aware of the CCAC’s services.
“Sometimes — a lot of times — they don’t even know what’s out there. They’re discharged from the hospital with nothing in place. It’s grim. Sometimes they’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown by the time they call us.”
Minister of Health Deb Matthews insists more money is being funneled into homecare and said there is “absolutely no truth to the suggestion that there is a cut to the funding. It’s quite the opposite. There’s been an increase and they will be getting more this year.”
Matthews said the province invested $93 million into the Aging at Home strategy and that they’re focusing on community supports as a way to help people remain in their homes.