Success of Home Care a Testament to Collaborative Care

Doug Graham, MLA for Porter Creek North

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, January 10th, 2014
by Doug Graham, Minister of Health & Social Services

The term “collaborative care” has been in the news recently, as a model of care we are adopting across Yukon’s health care system. As we move in this direction, it’s useful to take a look at examples we already have of how a collaborative care approach has helped us deliver better, more cost-effective service to Yukoners. Home care in Yukon is one such example.

The term “collaborative care” is somewhat self-explanatory. It refers to a team approach that involves a variety of trained medical and other professionals, all working together, or collaborating, to deliver the service that individuals need. The emphasis is on ensuring each professional involved is able to work to the full scope of their training and use all their skills, abilities and knowledge to deliver service. The goal is to ensure Yukoners receive the best possible health care services in a timely, responsive and cost-effective way.

The Yukon Home Care Program provides client-focussed health services in the home, improves quality of life and supports Yukoners in living safely and independently in their own homes, which is where they want to be. The program offers a “bundle” of services, including professional services such as nursing, social work and therapies; personal care such as assistance with dressing, bathing, feeding, transfers and mobility assistance; and home-making, with a focus on safety and sanitation. Yukon’s level of home care service is considered to be one of the most comprehensive bundles available in the country.

Yukon does face challenges in the delivery of home care. For example, 15 percent of home care clients in Yukon have no family caregivers available to them, compared to the national average of 2 to 3 percent without a caregiver. In recognition of this and other challenges, the Yukon Home Care Program works to integrate and link its services with community partners, such as First Nation programs, community nursing, hospital services, chronic disease management teams, and primary care physicians.

The program also uses technology in the provision of care – laptop computers and telehealth systems link clients, care providers and professional staff in communities, Whitehorse and larger centres in southern Canada. We have also hired a new Health Promotion and Prevention care coordinator, who works with clients to help them pro-actively manage their health. In addition, we provide respite services that give caregivers the breaks they need, and which can prevent or delay clients from entering the acute care system.

In addition to the benefits to individuals, our approach to home care also provides a cost benefit to government and ultimately to taxpayers – the cost for an individual to receive home care is $38/day, compared to long-term care, which costs up to $400/day and hospital care, which costs $2200/day.

We know that the percentage of Yukoners who are 65 or older will nearly double by 2021 and triple by 2030. This is why it’s so important that we keep our focus on collaborative home care that meets the individual’s needs in a fiscally-responsible way. This approach to home care will help us keep our clients happier and healthier and in their own homes.

And, as we look beyond home care to a broad range of health care needs, the collaborative approach shows much promise as a way to serve all Yukoners better.