‘Impossible challenge’ ahead if home care not improved in Quebec, report says

Click to play video: 'New report says key changes needed to at-home health care in Quebec'
New report says key changes needed to at-home health care in Quebec
Home care in Quebec is lagging behind and the consequences could be grave if the government doesn't turn things around. That's according to a report released by Quebec's health and wellness commissioner on Tuesday. Joanne Castonguay is painting a bleak picture of the current situation and the vital necessity for action. Global's Dan Spector reports – Jan 23, 2024

Home health care in Quebec is in a rough state, and there will be grave consequences if the government doesn’t turn it around soon according to a report released by Quebec’s Health and Wellness Commissioner on Tuesday.

Joanne Castonguay is painting a bleak picture of the current situation and the vital necessity for action.

“How do you measure the size of a challenge like this? I don’t know,” Castonguay said at a press conference.

Her new 280-page report outlines several key problems, how the government can begin to fix them, and how our aging population will suffer if they don’t.

“I think the challenge is big, but I think the time is now,” she said.

The commissioner estimates last year Quebec only provided about 10 per cent of the home care hours actually needed and says that discrepancy will only get worse if nothing is done.

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She cited research saying seniors want home care, and said costs far less taxpayer money compared to sending people to hospital.

However, the government remains mired in a hospital-centric approach that is no longer in touch with reality, she said.

She denounced how an ambitious home care plan Quebec proposed in 2003 was barely implemented. Castonguay said what is in place is overly complicated and performs poorly. Most people don’t even know how to get access to home care, and services vary widely based on where you are.

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“Conditions should be the same no matter where you live,” she said.

If the province stays on its current path, long-term care will cost taxpayers an extra $9 billion per year by 2040. The province will also need 2,500 new spaces in nursing homes each year, not to mention all the staff that comes with them.

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“The amount of of people that would be required is just unbelievable as well. We need to develop initiatives that will allow us to keep the well-being of our elderly people,” Castonguay said.

In the report, she says without change there will be an “impossible challenge” ahead.

Among her recommendations: the government must create a new system that emphasizes the autonomy of seniors, use the new Santé Quebec agency to make it easier to get access, provide funding where it’s needed, and support innovative ideas.

“I think people are ready already to meet this challenge and the population wants it,” said Castonguay.

Quebec’s Golden Age Federation (FADOQ) welcomes the report.

“We hope that some action will be taken really shortly,” said FADOQ government relations adviser Philippe Poirier-Monette.

Sonia Belanger, Quebec’s minister responsible for seniors, said in a statement she agrees with the findings.

“We thank the Commissioner for her work. We agree with the major findings raised. Our priority is also to improve access to home support for Quebecers and we will continue the work already started,” Belanger said.

Poirier-Monette said the government had been waiting for this report, but that now there is no excuse to not improve the situation.


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