The right care at the right place at the right time. It’s a reasonable goal for the health system, but frequently Ontarians are faced with difficult decisions because they can only access one or two of those three conditions.
Recently we received a call about potential layoffs at a nursing home in Grey County, leading us to wonder why, with so many Ontarians on wait lists for a long-term care bed, this particular home had several beds unfilled. It turned out to be not alone in the region.
In the South West region there is an average of 1,442 people waiting to get into a long-term care home (April 2013) – but that is not uniform. The South West stretches from Lake Erie in the South to Tobermory in the north and the experiences vary dramatically.
While the average wait to get into a long-term care home is 124 days, that is not the case in the northern part of the LHIN where the average wait in Grey and Bruce Counties is less than half at 55 days.
The municipal homes in Grey and Bruce Counties have the longest waits, being among the first choice of those seeking care, but those looking for immediate placement can have their pick from at least five homes. An additional six homes have waits for basic beds that are less than 30 days. Some are as short as four days.
Having this information available is certainly useful to families seeking to find a nursing home, although not all CCACs are consistent about posting such information. The question is, why? We surveyed the CCAC websites under “Long Term Care Options” and found wait time information at four – South West, Toronto Central, Central East and South East. If you are from one of the other CCACs and we missed your information, please let us know!
First: why do those homes have empty beds? Is it because they are preferred accommodation and therefore more expensive and the homes aren’t filling with basic? Is it because the area is overbedded? Is it because the homes have poor compliance records or a bad history (which would be known in a smaller community)
Second: waiting list postings which sound like a great idea have actually turned out to be a dud. Why? Becasue it doesn’t tell you the information you need to know. The waiting lists (which I understand all CCACs will be posting shortly) only tell you the median time waited for each home and each level of accommodation for males/females. What it doesn’t tell you is what the wait time for each waiting list category is, which lists are getting placed, etc. Due to the “home first programs” in many areas, placement onto crisis lists have become de riguer (people are being pushed out of hospital into these programs with the promise of being put on the crisis list). This means that if you are waiting in the community, you are being bumped continually (in fact, you will unlikely ever get placed from the regular list for most homes). The numbers are therefore skewed by those going in on crisis – who theoretically could be waiting less than a day to get in – while those waiting patiently in the community may wait years and never get placed – so those numbers are never included as its only those who are actually placed that get counted.