More than nine months after expressing Ontario’s intention to retain PSWs, implementation continues to hit major bumps in the road.(CanStock Photo)
In 2010 a provincial coalition of experts was assembled to look an integrated hospice palliative care system in Ontario.
Hospices are a specialized residential facility for palliative care patients. As the coalition’s report states, “hospice palliative care is a philosophy of care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying.”
To do that the government relies on these hospices to produce a substantial portion of own-source revenue, most of that coming through fundraising.
Among the many recommendations in the four-year-old coalition report is one to increase the percentage of public funding for Ontario’s hospices to 80 per cent of their operating expenses. Presently it is about 50 per cent.
It may be wise to keep that in mind as the hospices now grapple with unexpected costs associated with the government’s initiative to improve PSW wages and address the sector’s ongoing recruitment and retention issues.
ParaMed staff picket outside their Pembroke office in July. 140 Renfrew County home care workers could be on strike as soon as September 2.
The government gives, the home care agencies take away.
Many of OPSEU’s home care agencies are presently at the bargaining table.
You’d think this would be the best of times for the professional and support staff that conducts the often difficult work of caring for Ontario’s homebound frail and elderly. Retaining this group of workers is also important to government bean counters who can add up the cost of lengthy stays in hospital by alternative level of care patients waiting for home care access.
Clearly of all sectors, home care has also become central to the government’s strategy to migrate services into the community.
So why can’t they get it right?
Ontario did recognize there is a significant problem with recruitment and retention in home care, taking what appeared to be a bold step towards increasing specific funding for the sector’s personal support workers (PSWs). PSWs delivered 72.3 per cent of all home care visits in 2012/13 and that percentage is growing as visits by licensed health professionals (nurses, dietitians, social workers and therapists) have been in decline over the past decade.
As we noted yesterday, the turnover is so high among home care PSWs that often the entire staff of an agency can change in less than two years.