Caregiver worries about lack of work
PARRY SOUND – A former home care nurse is concerned about the future of homecare.
After the North Bay-based Victoria Order of Nurses lost its contract with Muskoka’s Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), Lisa Gregory said she had shift after shift in West Parry Sound cancelled, despite a provincial promise to increase homecare funding.
According to the North East CCAC, homecare coverage in the region is growing and it’s working as the provincial funding has come through as its scope of responsibilities increase.
A registered nurse with 17 years experience, Gregory worked for the VON for five years, four of which were seasonal. The VON is one service provider the CCAC uses to deliver homecare services.
This spring, though, she quit after her shifts were cancelled for what she said was no apparent reason and soon after she learned her employer had lost the contract in Muskoka.
This, while the province was promising a six per cent increase in funding for homecare.
“I was being faxed and being told there wasn’t work,” said Gregory, who is certified in palliative care. “And that…I couldn’t imagine.”
As unionized workers, she said there’s a concern the local VON could also lose the contract through the local North East CCAC to provide home care services.
“It sounds like through the winter too the girls didn’t have regular work, even though, in this community it’s something that is needed,” said Gregory.
According to North East CCAC executive director Richard Joly, the government organization has no plans to end it’s relationship with the VON for providing homecare in West Parry Sound.
There are about 700 people in West Parry Sound who receive medical support at home.
“I would say it constantly increases year-after-year,” said Joly. “The complexity of our clients are more complex in the community than they were five years ago…and the reason why: they get discharged from the hospital quicker (and there’s) more services in the community.”
The CCAC chooses the organizations that send home care workers to clients based on quality of care and, said Joly, price is only 20 per cent of the consideration.
In this spring’s provincial budget, the government promised a four per cent increase in funding for homecare.
“That four per cent increase is just to recognize the growth that’s occurred in the sector and the emphasis on community and homecare,” said Joly.
As of August 14, the increased funding hadn’t yet flowed through to the organization, but Joly said it’s working with the knowledge it will.
The scope of the CCACs responsibilities is also increasing, as it takes on all screening of assisted living applicants. In the past, assisted living service providers could do their own screening.
“The CCAC has an expanded role that’s being rolled out,” he said. “For instance, assisted living, the expanded role is CCAC will managed the assisted living component. So, we’ll assess, coordinate the care and then send that referral to an assisted living provider.”
Calls to the VON weren’t returned.