BScN, RN, GNC(C) President,
Eldercare Home Health Inc.

Today I received a phone call from a senior who had recently undergone back surgery for degenerative disc disease. She is home from hospital, lives alone in a highrise apartment, and receives two one hour visits each week from the CCAC for assistance with bathing.

She is using a walker now due to poor balance. She is not receiving assistance from a physiotherapist either at home or in an outpatient setting. She has not been given any direction in terms of a follow up exercise program. She still requires medication for pain, and some days are better than others. She does not have children to assist her, although she stated that her neighbors have been very generous with offers to assist with grocery shopping.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Back surgery is an expensive, invasive and serious undertaking. As taxpayers, we should consider it an investment in a person’s wellbeing. We have the right to expect that the person receiving the benefit of the surgery, actually benefit. This means that once a person is discharged home to the community, some basic care and supervision and support should be offered to keep that person as safe and independent as possible. We don’t see this happening very often.

The cost of providing senior health care at home compares very favorably to providing hospital or facility based care. The VIP program offered by Veterans Affairs has demonstrated the tremendous beneficial effect, both financial and psychological, for those receiving even minimal support at home. For those not familiar with this program, it provides housekeeping and in some cases caregiving support to Veterans who wish to live at home. The annual costs are within the $3,000-$5,000 range. This compares incredibly favourably with the approximately $1,000/day to keep someone in an acute care setting. (And yes, there are many seniors who are being “held” in an acute care setting who could safely live either at home or in a long term care setting.)

This way of doing “business” is costing us a fortune and is not providing favourable outcomes for the Client. It doesn’t make any sense.

Back to our caller…with continued support and a small investment in her continued wellbeing, we have the opportunity to keep this senior safe, happy and independent at home. It’s a win-win situation; makes great economic sense and gives a senior her choice to stay home safely.

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