Better home support for dying patients in Vancouver would improve hospital wait times
When nurses have more time with home care patients, they are able to provide better care. When they are able to provide better care, they are helping to keep patients at home. Why would Vancouver Coastal Health reduce time spent with home care patients when the aging population is rapidly increasing and isolation puts patients at risk? A task-based model of care turns patients into objects, rather than individual human beings.
According to the 2011 Seniors Vulnerability Report by the United Way, “projections indicate that by 2036 Canada’s population of seniors will grow from 14 to 25 percent of the country’s total population. Close to 1 in 4 people will qualify as a senior”.
Improved home care would reduce wait times for all patients in hospitals
It doesn’t take expensive research for us to figure out that insufficient home care results in palliative patients returning to hospitals that don’t have room for them. However, it is helpful that solid research can puncture the denial that seems to plague Vancouver Coastal Health and anyone who claims that we are not facing a growing crisis.
In Caring for BC’s Aging Population, the CCPA spells out the collective awareness amongst experts, “Among health providers and within governments, there is growing recognition that a comprehensive and well-coordinated home and community care system can significantly alleviate pressure in the most expensive part of the health system—hospitals—by reducing wait times for both emergency and surgical services.” This recognition is reinforced by national reports by the Wait Times Alliance on wait times for hospital services across Canada.
Improved home care saves money that could be put back into healthcare
When my dying mother was sent home from the hospital, I was terrified and I was told that a palliative hospital bed would cost $3,000 per day in the US. The reason that I survived my mother's discharge was due to the discovery of innovative tools like Tyze, in addition to a lot of creative problem-solving and trouble shooting.
Once we were all set-up and organized, it occurred to me that my voluntary labour was saving taxpayers an enormous amount of money. Even if a palliative hospital bed cost $2,000 dollars a day, there is a huge saving: thousands of dollars spent daily in hospital versus approximately $200 spent daily on home care.
According to my calculations, my role as a caregiver saved tax-payers between $300,000 to $400,000. When this savings is calculated into the bigger picture, it seems illogical and inhumane to limit access to basic services for home care patients.
The CCPA also echoes this reality of limited access to services, as it explains how “restructuring in home and community care—such as changes to policies that govern when seniors get access to what types of care—has undermined the vital prevention role these services can play. In both residential care and home support, eligibility criteria have become increasingly restrictive, to the point that seniors often have to wait until they are in crisis and admitted to hospital in order to get the community services they require.”
There is a deep denial surrounding the status of Vancouver's palliative care system. As the need increases, the services are stretching to the point of breaking. Do you want to subscribe to this expensive plague of denial and turn the other way? Or do you believe that a lifetime of paying taxes should result in proper end-of-life care?
Death is the one thing that we all have in common. It is our responsibility to care about our dying citizens.