Ontario’s Bill 7 makes seniors living at home a lower priority for long-term care, caregiver says
A caregiver from Sudbury, Ont., says Ontario’s Bill 7 will make it harder for her elderly mother to enter a long-term care home because of the way the legislation puts people first. older people who are already receiving hospital care.
Linda Toner has been the primary caregiver for her 89-year-old mother Joyce since April 2019. Joyce has limited mobility, chronic heart conditions and moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
« So his short-term memory is pretty much exhausted, » Toner said.
She might die just before being admitted to a long-term care home.-Linda Toner, carer for her mother
Joyce has been on a waiting list to enter long-term care since June 2021 because her daughter only receives around 90 minutes of respite care per week – where a personal support worker comes in on Tuesday and Friday mornings to help with the shower.
Toner said she was told to expect a two-to-four-year wait to get her mother into a long-term care home, but with Bill 7 she expects that it takes even longer.
« I don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s entirely reasonable in my opinion that my mother – I mean, she’ll be 90 next year – that she might die just before entering in a long-term care facility at home,” Toner said.
Bill 7, the More Beds and Better Care Act, allows Ontario hospitals to transfer their elderly patients from another level of care – who don’t necessarily need care full hospitalizations – to a long-term care home that is not necessarily of their choice.
Patients who refuse to leave a hospital are also subject to a mandatory fine of $400 per day.
Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Sinai Health System in Toronto, said the bill would have unintended consequences for seniors receiving home and community care.
« Right now, we have over 40,000 people currently waiting for long-term care, » Sinha said.
« Most of these people, the vast majority, are those who live in the community but have been waiting, you know, in some cases for many years to get into a home. »
Sinha said the quickest way for someone receiving home care to get into a long-term care home is to put them on a community crisis list, which means their situation and health will change. are deteriorated. Otherwise, hospitalized elderly people have priority.
But Sinha added that with more support for home and community care, the province could reduce the need for long-term care homes in the first place and reduce the growing waiting list.
« We know that for anyone receiving government-funded home care, about 90% of their home care is provided by family caregivers, » he said.
« Very little is usually provided by the government itself. »
Sinha said the money the province has invested in adding more long-term care beds to the system would be better spent improving home and community care. It costs about $750 a day to care for an alternate level of care (ALC) patient in the hospital, while long-term care costs about $200 a day and home care costs only $103. per day.
In April, the province announced it would invest $3.7 billion, beginning in 2024-25, in addition to the $2.68 billion already invested, to build 10,000 new long-term care beds and modernize 12,000 other beds.
NDP Health Critic France Gélinas agreed that home and community care needs more funding.
« A lot of these patients who are in ALC want to go home, » she said.
« They could go home, they should go home, if only our home care system hadn’t been privatized and wouldn’t be failing more people than it helps every day. »
CBC News contacted the Ontario Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care, but did not receive a timely response.
Support to stay at home
Toner said that if she received more financial support, her mother would not be on a waiting list to enter a long-term care home.
She said it would be helpful if she received funding to hire more respite care when she needed it, so she could spend more time with her husband and adult children.
“No way would I think of leaving my mom alone for more than two hours,” Toner said.
« Certainly, never leave her alone all night. She fell in the middle of the night. »
While she said she loved her mother, Toner said she sometimes felt trapped.
« I don’t mean in any way to imply that I don’t love my mom, or anything, but it’s a trapped feeling when you know you can hardly ever go anywhere because I’m the caregiver,” she said. .