Home Care Leadership Team Created to Strengthen Home-care Services for Manitoba Families: Minister Blady

A new home care leadership team led by Reg Toews will guide the province’s response to a recent report by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) and develop a comprehensive plan to guide home-care services in the future, Health Minister Sharon Blady announced today.

“I want to thank the auditor general for the recommendations on how we can strengthen home-care services in Manitoba,” said Minister Blady.  “Home care was created here.  Our program is widely regarded as one of the best in North America and in order to ensure it remains accessible to all Manitobans who need it, we will continue to reject calls to base home care on one’s ability to pay.”

The minister indicated that in the 40 years that these services have been offered, the number of clients and complexity of health needs being met have changed substantially.  She added that all provinces face similar challenges, and some have responded by introducing user fees and privatizing services.  As the report notes, there is also a need to forecast and plan for the increased demand for services associated with the growth in Manitoba’s senior population, she said.

The leadership team will be chaired by Reg Toews, a recognized leader in the province’s health system, who most recently led a review of emergency medical services in Manitoba and the implementation task force, the minister added.

The team will use the OAG recommendations, the Brian Sinclair and Frank Alexander inquest recommendations, and the valuable insights of home-care staff, clients and families to shape a plan to ensure Manitoba continues to be a leader in providing responsive, reliable and safe client-centred home-care services into the future, the minister said.  The team will also seek the expert advice of the Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA) to place home-care services in Manitoba in the national and international context.

“We are pleased to be working with Mr. Toews and the members of the home care leadership team to support the evolution of home-care services in Manitoba,” said Nadine Henningsen, executive director, CHCA.  “The priorities of human resources, principles and standards, and a client and family-centred approach to care are core elements of comprehensive, responsive and publicly funded home care.  We look forward to bringing our expertise in these areas to the team.”

The minister said items of focus will include looking at the most appropriate and efficient structure for the delivery of home care in Manitoba, as well as developing an implementation plan for:

  • ensuring that short and long-term human resource plans are in place to meet the needs of Manitobanswhile also recognizing the vital role of those who work in the system;
  • harmonizing services offered by home care throughout Manitoba; and
  • developing a reliable service for clients, families and informal caregivers, regardless of one’s ability to pay.

“I’ve seen the evolution of home-care services in Manitoba and how it has become an integral piece of the healthcare system over its 40-year history,” said Toews.  “Manitobans are proud of our home-care services and I look forward to the opportunity to help make meaningful changes to ensure it continues to be strong into the future.”

Home care is not an insured service under the Canada Health Act, meaning the federal government plays no financial role in providing home care, the minister said.  Coverage for home-care services was established in September 1974, and Manitoba is unique among provinces in not charging user fees or limiting support services by income, she added, noting home care is provided to Manitobans of all ages based on assessed need and taking into account other resources available to the individual including families, community resources and other programs.

Minister Blady noted that since 1999, the home-care budget has almost doubled to $310 million from $165 million to support quality care and to provide services to more clients, and the user fees introduced in the 1990s have been eliminated.

“Provinces across Canada are grappling with aging populations and the best ways to address long-term care.  As we heard during the 40th anniversary celebrations last year, public home care is very important to families, but there’s more to do to improve service levels while ensuring that vital front-line services that families count on are protected,” said Minister Blady.  “This leadership team will help us look at ways to provide more stability for clients and the dedicated workers who provide excellent care every day while keeping services public, accessible and affordable for families.”

The home care leadership team is expected to complete its implementation plan in late 2016, with a progress report due later this year, the minister said.

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