THUNDER BAY – Guest Editorial – The recent release of the Don Drummond report on public finances contains a number of thought provoking recommendations, many of which will stir up heated debate. Yet the section of recommendations pertaining to home care and community support should find broad consensus. Why? The report simply echoes a wide body of research demonstrating that public investments in home and community care make strong social and economic sense.
Ontarians want to remain in their homes and in their communities for as long as possible – close to family, friends and familiar surroundings. This provides greater comfort and independence, and allows them to retain their dignity.
Many people lying in hospital beds – waiting for long-term care or supportive housing – don’t require round the clock medical care. They just need help with things like bathing, household tasks, transportation to medical appointments, or support for their family caregivers. It’s much more cost effective to help people live in the dignity of their own home environment with help from community support services.
The Northwest Community Support Services Network is an integrated group of not-for-profit health service providers with a focus on community-based services for individuals and their families. We espouse the following:
- More services in the home and community for seniors and people with disabilities are a compassionate, practical, cost-effective solution to our health care challenges;
- Community services such as respite for family caregivers, supportive housing, transportation, assisted living, personal support and independence training, housekeeping, meal preparation, and full accessibility to services and information are vital;
- No one should be denied access to home and community support services because they cannot afford it;
- Community programs that keep people engaged and active in their neighbourhoods are important elements of a true health prevention strategy;
- Continued local planning focused on the needs of individuals and their families is a critical element to the organization of health care.
The government’s new Senior Care Strategy proposes to provide 3 million new hours of personal support to seniors in their homes, expand doctor house calls and better coordinate how resources are allocated. We agree wholeheartedly that these changes will mean more comprehensive and compassionate care for local seniors.
We encourage government and policy makers to think strategically. Creativity and innovation are required to meet our current and future health care challenges. Investing in home and community support services now will save government money in the future.
We encourage our local MPP’s to continue to champion the community support health sector, and to reinforce our message at every opportunity.
Carol Neff (Wesway) and Robert Kilgour (Canadian Red Cross)
Co-Chairs, Northwest Community Support Services Network