By: Donna Byrne
“Home is where one starts from.” -T. S. Eliot. Home is our starting point. Most of our first experiences happen at home. First laugh. First steps. First words. In our homes we build relationships and skills that will deeply affect us for the rest of our lives. Home is the beginning; it is where we start. “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” – Jane Austen. When you are tired, run-down, sad, lonely or sick… is there anything better than staying at home? There is something about the walls of your own home; they seem to just reach down and give you a big hug, and tell you that everything is going to be all right. “Home is where the heart is.” This all may sound corny or like old clichés but are they not true? It is not surprising then that moving from what we have thought of as home for 40 years, is often very difficult to even contemplate let alone really do.
We at Health Access Home and Nursing Care have been providing home care for thousands of people for the past 17 years. We have worked with people who, with some support, have been able to stay home safely and happily in their own environment. Because we have witnessed so many great stories and seen how much better the quality of life for seniors can be if they are supported in their homes, I was surprised reading the article in the Gazette earlier this month saying “province pushes to move seniors out of hospital” The plan is, as the article outlined, to inject $16 million for homecare and support in the homes. How can that be a bad move? The slant in the article was not about the seniors at all. It was to free up beds. Most people I have worked with over the years have desperately wanted to go home. So often they have been told “you cannot go home” and have had to spend many days, weeks and even months sitting in a chair, often restrained, waiting for the next meal.
With proper support in the home many do not have to be there to wait for another residence….They can stay there. If even one half of the $984 for each day in hospital was spent on home support, frail patients could be at home. For many seniors help can be provided for as little as $60.00-$120.00 per day. More often, people can stay home with support costing as little as $200.00/ week and less if the need is to assess and follow without a lot of physical care needs. To me, it is a no brainer. Let me stay home!!!!! The longer we keep people in the hospital the faster they lose many abilities to function independently. Hospitals are confusing places to be even for the young and strong. Nights turn to days and bells ring, machines beep and people walk into your room at all hours. Who wouldn’t be confused?
If there is a real move toward better funding and coordination of home care why can’t this be an option? If the province just uses the plan to save money and cut funding, I understand the concern. As we age though there may have to be some planning for extra care and help around the house. Some of the cost for these additional needs usually have to be absorbed by the family or the senior themselves. Families may help with some of the difficult tasks for their parents or hire people to do so. I think it is unrealistic to think that the “Government will look after us for all of our care”. However if they do inject funds and eliminate the waiting list and provide a reasonable amount of hours of care for those going home, it can work to supplement what the families have to do.
The plan for discharge from the hospital has to start the day of admission so that the eight hospital days can be used to assess needs prior to a last minute panic. As seniors age this can be an ongoing process. It should not be a surprise that certain adjustments need to be made in the home. I know that changes may not be easy but the alternative is worse. The access to care and follow up using technology is far behind in Quebec. The remote teaching and monitoring used in our studies with McGill clearly demonstrated that we can keep costs down and provide better care helping people manage their health, if only there was the will to do so. The need for changes to our health care/ sick care system is now! The years of “same old, same old” has resulted in the desperate situation we find ourselves in today.
Comments, ideas, suggestions are welcome.
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Health Access Home & Nursing Care