ARCHIVED - 2003 First Ministers Health Accord

Home Care For Canadians

Home care is an array of services which enables individuals to receive care and treatment at home and/or live as independently as possible, when they may otherwise have to be in hospital. It also offers support to persons having full-time care for an incapacitated individual.

In discussing home care, the following terms are often used:

  • Short-Term Acute Care includes: post-surgical care, rehabilitation, or health instructions on care or the use of medical equipment for chemotherapy, oxygen therapy, diabetes, IV therapy, or medication administration; and care to clients with acute serious mental illness.
  • Palliative/End-of-Life Care includes: compassionate care in providing treatment to people who are dying from a terminal illness or natural causes of old age, who would prefer to die at home or remain home for as long as possible before death.
  • Assessed Need: a fair way of determining the services and supports required by an individual or their family to keep an individual at home or in the community for as long as possible. It depends on their ability to function independently, physical and mental needs, and their environment. The assessment will be done by a trained health professional.

Why is home care important for renewal?

Home care can reduce the pressure on the health care system by ensuring that patients receive medically necessary services at home, instead of the hospital. Many such services provided in the home are more appropriate and less expensive than hospital care. It also supports health care renewal because it encourages the more efficient and effective use of health care professionals and reflects the commitment under the Accord to provide Canadians with high quality, effective and patient-centred care.

Benefits for Canadians

  • improved access to a set of services in the home and community, regardless of where they live in Canada - this set of home care services would be insured by governments;
  • prevention of unnecessary hospitalization;
  • reduced length of stay in the hospital with the reassurance that supporting care will be available;
  • the option for the terminally ill to die at home or to remain at home for as long as possible before death;
  • access in the future to a compassionate care benefit; and
  • support to caregivers, especially those who provide care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Progress to Date

  • September 2000 - home care was identified as a priority for First Ministers, who described it as a critical component of a fully integrated health system.
  • October 2000 - Health Ministers called for the development of a common vision, principles and core program components for home and community care, to help guide future investments in this sector.
  • September 2002 - The Government of Canada announces plans to modify existing programs to ensure that Canadians can provide compassionate care to a gravely ill or dying child, parent or spouse without putting their jobs or incomes at risk.
  • March 2002 - Health Canada's Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life Care coordinated the development of a Canadian strategy on end-of-life care, with a National Action Planning Workshop.

Links to 2003 Accord on Health Care Renewal

  • February 2003 - the Prime Minister and Premiers reached an agreement on health care renewal which identified home care as a priority initiative to be funded under the Health Reform Fund.
  • Health Ministers are to determine by September 30, 2003, the set of minimum services to be provided.
  • First Ministers have agreed to provide first dollar coverage for this set of services for short-term acute home care, including acute community mental health, and end-of-life care.
  • The Government of Canada also committed to introducing a compassionate care benefit through the Employment Insurance Program and job protection through the Canada Labour Code, for those who need to temporarily leave their job to care for a gravely ill or dying child, parent or spouse.
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