Consultations lead to national home care action plan

October 2016   Comments

In partnership with the Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA) and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), CNA will release Better Home Care: A National Action Plan later this month. The plan focuses on the belief that the home is one of the best places to receive care to recover from an injury or illness, manage long-term conditions and live out final days.

The need and demand for home care is outpacing resources and funding. Only four per cent of public funds are spent on home care across the country. This percentage has not changed during the past 10 years despite the 55 per cent increase in the number of individuals receiving care in their homes.

While the majority (70%) of home care recipients are 65 and older, home care is provided to individuals of all ages. According to a Nanos poll commissioned by CNA, the vast majority of Canadians feel it is important (81%) or somewhat important (17%) for their loved ones to be able to age at home with access to health services. Today, increasingly complex care can be, and is, provided at home.

Through consultations in Halifax, Ottawa, Whitehorse and Calgary and an online survey conducted in the spring and summer, the partner organizations heard stories, strategies and promising practices from home care providers, administrators, clinicians and patients about how to strengthen home health services. The consultations focused on sustainable, integrated, accessible and accountable care. Advance planning, innovative funding models, support for caregivers and health human resources strategies were identified as requirements for sustainable care. The lack of integration of home health services with all other health and social services was highlighted as a gap that must be addressed. The development of defined principles, standards, indicators and reporting that can be adopted by provincial, territorial and federal home care programs was recommended as a way to improve accessibility and accountability. Further informing the action plan, survey respondents provided personal perspectives on the impact on patients, families and care providers of lack of access to appropriate services.

The national action plan will show the way to making home care more accessible and to achieving better health outcomes and quality of care while improving care recipients’ experiences.

CNA and the RN profession are ideal partners with CHCA and CFPC for moving this agenda forward because nurses are the largest health-care provider group in the country. According to the Nanos poll, 85 per cent of respondents support or somewhat support the federal government giving nurses a greater role in health-care delivery to seniors in their homes. RNs connect people with key health and social supports and are an invaluable resource to caregivers, helping them navigate the health-care system. Nurses’ unique and direct interactions with patients and families mean they have valuable insights and innovative solutions about how to improve the health of Canadians and the performance of the system.

With the federal government’s upcoming discussions on a new multi-year health accord, the national action plan will outline why having accessible home care for all Canadians creates better health outcomes and improved quality of life. The plan will provide the government with concrete actions along with measurable outcomes to strengthen home care.

Lisa Ashley, RN, M.Ed., CCHN(C)

Lisa Ashley, RN, M.Ed., CCHN(C), is a CNA senior nurse advisor.

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