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Champlain CCAC in freefall as patients get dropped from home care

We the North
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“It’s a question of how we can do work more efficiently and maybe less people.” – Patrice Connolly, vice-president of people and stakeholder engagement, Champlain CCAC.

The Ottawa Sun is reporting the Champlain CCAC has cut services to a patient who has multiple sclerosis and cannot bathe, dress, or cook. Without his visits he cannot also do the exercises needed to keep him from stiffening up.

Over the summer Champlain realized that it was headed for a $6.8 million operating deficit and reset the threshold for personal support services to an assessment score (RAI) of 15.5 – this on a scale that goes to 28.

Further, staff have been told to instruct patients in need of care how to access other services, “many of which have a co-pay fee.”

States the Champlain CCAC in their June minutes: “staff recognize this is a hardship for clients and families, however the Champlain CCAC must also work within the budget it is provided.”

Oh, and if your condition changes, says the CCAC, give us a call.

This is not about efficiency. The CCAC is not doing anything better or more effective with the same amount of money or less, it is simply rationing services and shedding patients in need.

In fact, a brief look at their quality indicators would suggest the CCAC is failing in several of their categories to be more “effective.” Their goal to reduce adult long-stay home care clients who record a fall between assessments has gone in the opposite direction – it has gone up substantially. Their target to increase the percentage of complex patients who receive their first personal support service within five days is still well below the goal of 90 per cent. In April it was 80 per cent, and in July 82 per cent.

Not surprisingly, by September the budget problems were even worse. For the first four months of the year the CCAC sustained a deficit of $5.3 million – that’s $3.2 million over what they had “planned” for the same period of time. Unless the CCAC can stem the red ink, they are now on track for a deficit closer to $16 million.

The Sun reports the CCAC is witnessing a widening gap between funding and demand. Funding is going up by 7 per cent with the promise of another 1.5 per cent to come. However, demand has increased by 11.3 per cent.

Given Ontario hospitals have been staring at zero-base budgeting for several years now, what did they expect?

Home care was supposed to reassure us that hospital cuts simply represented health care reform, that we shouldn’t worry, people could receive care where they wanted it: in their home.

In addition to multiple sclerosis that confines him to a scooter, the patient denied service by the Champlain CCAC also has cancer behind the eye, diabetes and a severe thyroid condition.

It’s true that less people includes the shedding of some of the top-heavy management at the CCAC. It also means shedding other jobs that directly interact with patients. We’re not sure how you care for patients like this with “less people.” If he can’t get care, who can?

Care Coordinators are beside themselves as they are forced to tell long-service clients that they can no longer access care.

Champlain is in free fall and the government needs to step in to protect the health care of patients who absolutely need service from the CCAC.

It wouldn’t be the first time. Prior to amalgamation of CCACs within the Champlain region, Ontario appointed a new Chair to take over the Ottawa CCAC in 2004 after a scathing operational review. Since amalgamation the Champlain CCAC has run through a number of CEOs as it lurches from what some describe as crisis-to-crisis.

This article was originally published in the Diablogue