Quebec pledges money for home care as demand grows
The Quebec government is investing big time in the overburdened home care sector that is feeling the stress of the province's quickly aging population.
The province estimates that in the next three or four decades there will be one retiree for every two workers. The strain on the province's healthcare system is already showing.
"At the emergency ward, you have 25 per cent of elders, who are generally hospitalized and waiting for a place in a long-term facility, or to receive adequate healthcare, which they have not received when they are at home," said Paul Brunet, chair of the Quebec Council for the Protection of Patients.
The CAQ government announced $280 million for home care in addition to the $1.5 billion the ministry already spends annually.
According to Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann, the money will represent service for more than 3,700 people.
The goal, the minister said, is to keep people healthy and in their homes.
"When I talk about people who have chronic diseases, who have serious health problems, it's important to give them home care, so they don't need to go to the emergency room. For elderlies, it's going to give them more care at home, so they don't have to go into long-term care facilities."
McCann said the province will need to hire around 2,500 nurses and orderlies, which could be tough in the midst of Quebec's labour shortage and demanding working conditions for nurses.
Home care specialist Anne Carrier said work needs to be done to attract nurses and orderlies.
"I do think that there are other initiatives that will be needed for the system to be able to hire this many people," she said.
McCann said the government will try to coax people into the profession by offering bursaries of up to $7,500 per student.
Brunet said the infusion of money is a good start, but more will be needed to alleviate the stress on the system and help those in need of care.
"It is not the ideal amount, but it is certainly a good way towards the goal, which is to reduce the pressure put on the system so that people, especially elders, receive adequate home care," he said. "When elders do receive the home care, it prevents them from going to the emergency ward."
Reducing the number of elders who wind up in the ER, Brunet said, reduces the number of elders requiring long-term care at the hospital and raises the number of available beds.
Also, patients want to stay home and avoid living in a long-care facility.
"As long as you can stay home, that's where you want to be the most. You don't want to go in a long-term facility if you still have a certain autonomy," said Brunet.