RNAO praises Ontario's blueprint to reform home and community care and achieve greater health system integration

TORONTO, Dec. 17, 2015 /CNW/ - People in Ontario who require home and community care will be better served under the bold and visionary changes proposed by Health Minister Eric Hoskins

The long-awaited changes, announced Thursday, mark an end to Community Care Access Centres (CCACs), which are largely responsible for arranging home and community care for patients discharged from hospitals, seniors who need help to remain safely in their homes and those requiring placements in nursing homes.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) says transferring the role of CCACs to Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) will empower these regional bodies to assume responsibility for whole system planning, funding allocation and performance accountability.

"Having two parallel bodies – CCACs and LHINs – each responsible for different aspects of our health system has hindered the system's capacity to be fully integrated," says RNAO President Vanessa Burkoski, emphasizing that "today's announcement will address the fragmentation within the system."  

The health minister's plan also identifies  the need to draw on the expertise of 3,500 care co-ordinators currently working in CCACs and possibly placing them in primary care, something that RNAO insists needs to happen and urges the government to act on. "Strengthening interprofessional primary care and positioning it to take on the role of care co-ordination is essential to achieving timely access and a hallmark of a high-performing health system," adds Burkoski.  

The minister's plan aims to remedy challenges people face accessing care, such as the inability to receive primary care outside of business hours. RNAO says this can be resolved by enabling the full utilization of all health professionals working together to address the needs of patients. The association says a logical next step is for the government to move quickly with its commitment to expand the role of registered nurses (RN) to prescribe medications, which goes hand in hand with today's plan and will lead to same-day access for Ontarians.   

Doris Grinspun, RNAO's Chief Executive Officer, says Ontarians are the real winners in today's announcement. "They will see faster access and a more co-ordinated approach to their care. By removing the structural duplication that exists between CCACs and LHINs, and aligning all the major sectors – public health, primary care, hospitals, home care, and long-term care – under one umbrella, LHINs can ensure there are smoother transitions of care for the public and a more efficient and cost-effective health system."

Grinspun is also pleased the government's proposal reflects and credits many of the ideas RNAO spelled out in its 2012 report, Enhancing Community Care for Ontarians (ECCO), which was re-issued in 2014. "We have been adamant that the health system requires this type of significant restructuring," she says. "We don't think the public should have to wait any longer. RNs, nurse practitioners and nursing students are eager and ready to make the system work for all Ontarians, regardless of where they live. The minister should move quickly so we see real transformation in short order."  

This year marks the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario's (RNAO) 90th anniversary. RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

For further information: For more information, or to arrange an interview with a nurse, please contact: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), 416-408-5605 (office), 647-406-5605 (cellular)

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http://www.rnao.org

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