Home Care Developments in the Canadian Province of Alberta with Regionalization

Donna M. Wilson, Stephen Birch, Joachim Cohen, Rod MacLeod, Deepthi Mohankumar, Allison Williams

Abstract


A study was done to determine if the number of home care clients served annually in a Canadian province increased after regional boards were granted full authority and responsibility for health care services. An increase was expected as regional boards have more opportunity to comprehensively plan and provide cost-effective health care services in accordance with the needs of the local community. An increase was also expected in keeping with a previous home care growth trend. An analysis of 2004/05 data collected on all home care clients in the province of Alberta was undertaken, with the results compared to 2000/01. Client numbers province-wide declined 7%, although this decline was limited to the 7 rural regions (-50%), while client numbers increased 30% in each of the 2 urban regions. This decline in rural home care clients was linked to more readily available hospital beds in rural areas, which seems to have reduced the need or demand for home care in rural regions. Service coverage was also found to vary considerably among clients, but services were most often minimal and short term. Less than 2% of Albertans received publicly-funded home care services in 2004/2005, with coverage averaging 2 hours of basic personal care each week. This study reveals the issue that regional boards make vastly different allocation decisions in the absence of central health service policies or funding directives. The issue of home care service scarcity was also revealed, with research needed now to determine how home care expansion can be made to occur in rural areas, if not all areas.


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Global Journal of Health Science   ISSN 1916-9736(Print)   ISSN 1916-9744(Online)

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