For many Canadians caring for a loved one, although filled with compassion and love, can feel like a full-time job. Our current pubic healthcare system is not always able to provide families everything they need, requiring more families to shoulder the responsibilities of finding, managing and paying for home healthcare. Canadians are highly invested in caring for their loved ones. More than 25% of us are involved in providing informal care for a family member or close friend, and over 500,000 Canadians pay for some form of private healthcare at home.
As homecare trends toward a more self-managed model, there is an increasing demand for more affordable self-directed care options. Frequently, one family member takes the lead ‘advocate’ role in making key healthcare choices for a patient and healthcare service providers must now actively seek to empower these patient advocates to promote better health outcomes.
Over the past 20 years the Canadian health care and social service sector has experienced many challenges and changes, that necessitate the need for better coordinated care teams, improved communication tools and the adoption of innovative technology to support better healthcare outcomes. The following tips are designed to help families and patients evaluate the best home healthcare options to meet their needs. Consider the following “7 C’s” for Finding the Best Care. Start by asking if the home healthcare provider you are interested in offers the following:
1. Comprehensive care options. Patients often have a diverse set of healthcare and social service needs, so look for a care provider that offers a comprehensive range of caring professionals, delivering the full spectrum of services and advocacy resources in a ‘one-stop-shop’.
2. Choice of caring professionals. Each person’s care is unique, requiring a personalized and custom approach to care. It is important that your care provider offers you direct opportunities to interview, select and hire the best caring professionals that meet your care needs.
3. Control over care. Look for a care provider who welcomes your voice and direct input into the development of care plans, service delivery options and outcome evaluations. Involving family and patients in their own care is proven to deliver better healthcare outcomes.
4. Communication tools. Caring is often a team effort. Effective communication between patients, friends and family, as well as professional care teams is critical for delivering quality care outcomes. Look for care providers that offer easy online communication tools, with Facebook-like functions, but offer security and confidentiality features that are specifically designed to support the sharing of sensitive health care information.
5. Coordinated care. Being an effective patient advocate requires coordinating care plans, care teams and care outcomes. Look for care providers who offer effective tools and resources to support you with the planning, scheduling, budgeting, payment and delivery of care on your laptop, tablet and phone.
6. Cost of care. Look for care providers who are dedicated to offering the lowest possible rates for home healthcare options, while ensuring the highest possible wages for quality caring professionals. You want to ensure that as much of your family’s budget goes directly to the cost of care.
7. Caring approach. Seek care providers who are dedicated to empowering patients and families to be the best advocates they can be for themselves and their loved ones.
Many individuals and families want more affordable, transparent care options, as well as innovative digital tools that offer cost savings and online support for care. These easy to remember tips can help you better assess the fit between your care needs and the approach of various home healthcare service providers.
*References supporting policy recommendations & best practices: Bringing Care Home, Ministry of Health Ontario, 2015; Portraits of Care in Canada, Canadian Home Care Association, 2013; Health Comes Home Part 2: A Conversation about Aging and Chronic Care, OACCAC; Home and Community Care in Canada: An Economic Footprint, Conference Board of Canada, 2012.