What is Community Care?
Community and home health care (CHC) is a viable alternative to hospital or long term care services. CHC is full spectrum, provided for children with special needs, people with physical or mental disabilities, the frail elderly, and those who require palliative care.
Health care is trending overwhelmingly towards CHC. Over the last 10 years, facility care hours have plateaued. CHC shoulders twice its responsibility of 10 years ago. The trend is not surprising. According to the Canadian Healthcare Association’s report Home Care in Canada: From the Margins to the Mainstream(2009):
- People generally prefer to receive care at home
- Population is aging with increased incidence of chronic illness
- New technologies enable increasingly complex care at home
- Home care is typically a more affordable alternative to facility care
As a result, people tend to remain at home or in assisted living arrangements even with complicated health care needs.
While health care in licensed facilities are provided almost exclusively by regulated health care professionals (nursing, medicine, dietitians, occupational therapists), the sizable majority of CHC providers are either unregulated health care workers or unpaid caregivers (family, friends, and volunteers).
This group of caregivers can be responsible for ‘nursing’ procedures (medication administration, wound care, seizure management, and ostomy care) in homes and in assisted living settings often without nursing or medical support close by. Their results tend to be admirable. The challenges to providing exemplary care are formidable.