37th Annual Report of the Québec Ombudsman - SERVICE ACCESSIBILITY AND CONTINUITY MUST BE IMPROVED THROUGHOUT QUEBEC, ESPECIALLY FOR HOMECARE PATIENTS



    QUEBEC CITY, June 7 /CNW Telbec/ - The reforms begun in 2003 by Ministère
de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) must provide better access and
continuity of services throughout the network. According to Québec Ombudswoman
Raymonde Saint-Germain, certain progress still needs to be made. "The
complaints we've received mainly deal with the lack of homecare services and
the difficulty of getting access to rehabilitation services," she states.
    These reforms are intended to make services more accessible to the public
and ensure continuity of service among hospitals, local community service
centers (CLSC), and residential and long-term care centers (CHSLD) in the same
geographical area. Professionals working in these establishments can only care
for patients if they have the resources to meet the demand. The complaints
examined by the Québec Ombudsman over the last year have revealed that this is
not always the case.

    Homecare services aren't keeping up with demand

    Complaints reveal a major shortfall between demand for homecare services
and the ability of CLSCs to meet the demand. For patients who find it
difficult to function at home, this could mean a visit to the emergency room,
a hospital stay, or early placement in a care center. "The problems are
manifold. Patients have service plans, and these plans are based on
evaluations by professionals, but only part of the services are being
provided. Family members and other natural caregivers are increasingly pressed
into duty, and they don't always get the support they need, which compromises
their ability to make long-term commitments to patients like their aging
parents or handicapped children. There are also problems of equity between
regions and between areas within regions. The services available vary
according to the financial resources of the CLSC," states the Québec
Ombudswoman.
    These findings match those by other specialists and organizations and
confirm the importance of pursuing efforts to increase homecare services. "We
must ensure that the services available are more in keeping with the Home
Support Policy. Improvements to practices and processes, new tools to help
manage clinics, and network development are possibilities to explore," she
adds.

    Access to rehabilitation services

    Difficulty gaining access to rehabilitation services is another problem
that complaints to the Québec Ombudsman have revealed. Hospitals normally give
priority to hospitalized patients and patients that have undergone surgery.
However, patients who return to their home regions following surgery do not
receive this same priority treatment from their local hospitals. This can
create barriers to rehabilitation services their condition still demands. They
are either forced onto waiting lists or must seek the services of a private
clinic. In some cases, lack of timely care can aggravate their condition.
    Patients who go to outpatient clinics on the advice of their doctors are
usually referred to private rehabilitation clinics at their own expense. Those
who can't afford to do so may wait for over a year for an appointment. Yet
SAAQ (Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec) and CSST (Commission de la
santé et de la sécurité du travail) programs provide physiotherapy services in
either hospitals or private clinics under service agreements.
    "Less fortunate citizens, most of whom do not have private insurance,
cannot turn to the private sector. Often, their only option is to register on
a waiting list. I believe that certain patients, specifically those seeking
outpatient consultations, are receiving unequal treatment," says Ms.
Saint-Germain.
    The Québec Ombudswoman has already brought this to the attention of
Parliament. In appearing before the parliamentary committee during public
hearings on Bill 33, she recommended that MSSS create a plan of action to
address the difficulty of access to rehabilitation services.
    -%SU: CPN,LAW,SAN
    -%RE: 1




For further information:

For further information: Dominique Bouchard, Information Officer, (418)
643-2688, Cell: (514) 346-2643,
dominique.g.bouchard@protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca; Source: The Québec Ombudsman


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