The following is an open letter from Gary Froude to Christine Elliott, Minister of Health:
“We do continue to experience difficulties accessing home care services.
The biggest issue is the shortage of PSW/caregivers/attendants in the country, especially the province and most desperately in Muskoka.
The issue is not that the Direct Funding program is not working well to meet my needs, it is that the Direct Funding rate of pay for caregivers is too limited.
Institutions, which are also funded through Long-term Care are scooping up the limited numbers of PSW that are available.
They are able to pay more and provide more benefits and pay for training for caregivers to attend colleges and offer placements to these students as well.
DF Managers can do none of this.
The program permits the use of agencies for emergency situations.
We have been in an emergency situation for the six years I have been at home due to these same circumstance.
The agencies have increased their rates dramatically because of these same circumstance.
We know the province is trying to attract more participants into the sector, but few are trickling down to the DF Managers.
The DF program did have a temporary wages increase but was deemed to end in August and may be extended to October.
However this is scarcely enough to be competitive and everyone involved is worried about what will happen next.
If this ends it will be devastating. And even now it is still far less than required to attract workers.
The Temporary Foreign Worker program, which of course is Federal, has been our saving grace until recently.
We have now realized that the requirements of that program and the requirements of DF are at odds and have caused the Federal government to deem us non-compliant and seem to be determined to issue fines of tens of thousands of dollars.
At this moment it seems that DF is the only program that can serve my complex and critical needs.
CILT is doing a remarkable job to try to make the program work, but they really need more financial resources to be able to offer competitive wages.
It’s not that I prefer to be in control of hiring and managing my own care.
It is that I am not aware of any other program out there that can meet my needs of 24/7 care at home.
As I mentioned, I am a quadriplegic on a ventilator and if there is no one there to do suctioning in a timely fashion I will die.
Being at home is still a much better quality of life and a fraction of the cost of ICU (or somewhere else you might be able to find me care).
I implore you to make some adjustments in funding formulae as quickly as possible so that those of us whose lives depend on it can rest a little easier.
We have contacted our LHIN and it seems they just do not have the tools, programs or processes to resolve this.
Last week we contacted the 26 potential caregivers and agency on the two lists we were provided with and also found others as well.
We have been advertising for six years on dozens of sources.
We have also offered free room and board as our area has a lack of transportation and affordable housing.
There are no caregivers available to hire at the rates DF allows.
In addition, if someone is on the DF program it seems, at least in our area, they are ineligible for caregiver help from the LHIN.
We asked for a plan B in the event that I had insufficient care during a period of time (which could happen any day).
We were told that we would have to go to ER but that this time we were to let them know to contact our doctor to try to facilitate a bed in the ICU.
This is no way to live and not a good strategy for the use of ICU beds when a reasonable adjustment to the program, i.e. more $ for wages, could resolve the dilemma.
Not to mention the fact that this strategy does not support the “Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, which will enable the province to respond to future surges and waves of the virus while preserving hospital capacity.”
I am not alone in this struggle. This issue is effecting everyone in my condition without the means to privately pay for care.
We beg you and the Ministry to help save lives.
We want to be able to believe that:
“Ontario is improving the health care system to give patients better connected care, focused on their needs.” – no matter where they live or their socio-economic circumstances.
Whether it is Direct Funding or “the High Intensity Supports at Home program….designed to help patients with high care needs transition from a hospital back to their home or community setting with the right supports, also known as alternate level of care patients…. provides integrated, team-based care where multiple types of services are wrapped around the patient” it doesn’t really matter which program as long as it works.
Is it possible to make it work?
Please give my regards to Minister Elliott and Premier Ford and update them on my situation.
We have met on several occasions in Muskoka and Toronto.
Executive Director Muskoka Chautauqua”
Gayle Dempsey is an artist and fourth-generation Muskokan. Gary Froude, whose background is in the entertainment industry, is ‘from away’. They are passionate change-makers in Muskoka and care deeply about its past, present and future. Their work reflects their passion for life-long learning and community development and for the past 25 years they have been resurrecting Muskoka Chautauqua on Lake Rosseau.
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