Let's Make it Happen
In December 2015, Ontario’s Health Minister Eric Hoskins released a discussion paper that proposes significant structural changes to four components of the health system, one of which is home and community care. Patients First recommends that Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) assume responsibility for managing the delivery of home and community care services.
Discussions about strengthening home and community care services tend to focus on the needs of our aging population, yet families of children and youth with special needs tell us they want seamless home and community care services that focus on their needs. They are asking for a system that provides seamless transitions between services at home and in the community. Most often, these families receive home and community care through the school health services program.
There is no dispute that expert pediatric services are important, yet school health rehabilitation services make up only an estimated 5% of the CCAC system—a system designed primarily to support the acute care system and serve Ontario’s seniors. It is difficult to make school-aged children a priority due to the competing service demands of an aging population. Families tell us they want their children in a system that focuses 100% on children, not a system that focuses 95% on adults.
Families at the Centre of Care: The Special Needs Strategy
In addition to the government’s commitment to strengthening the home and community care system, a multi-ministry initiative called the Special Needs Strategy (SNS) has simultaneously been underway.
Once implemented, every child and youth with special needs in Ontario will be identified as early as possible, will benefit from seamless integration of speech and language services, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. And for those with complex and/or multiple needs, they will obtain the coordinated support they need.
The mandate of the SNS is to make things better for children, youth and families.
As a result of this process, community
planning proposals shaped by the strong input of families and the consensus of
core service providers were submitted for government approval last fall.
These proposals were shaped by the strong input of families and the consensus of core service providers.
A Viable Solution
There is a solution that can prioritize, protect and strengthen seamless pediatric rehabilitation services and support the government commitment to an integrated and accountable home and community care system for children and youth with special needs and their families:
This is the time to transfer funding for the school and community-based rehabilitation services from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS). For the year 2014-15, the cost of direct and indirect provision of rehabilitation services in schools and in the community is estimated to be more than $70M.
MCYS was created to bring focus and attention to the needs of children, youth and families. Seamless service under this ministry means that there will be no need for families to re-apply for rehabilitation services upon school entry, like they have to right now. Children and youth will experience rehabilitation service delivery as a single, continuous program from their point of entry until they leave services.
The realignment of existing funds from MOHLTC to MCYS will result in:
Better integration of services—at no extra cost
Clarity for families—at no extra cost
Accountability for and protection of funds for families of children and youth with special needs—at no extra cost
Moving more children from waiting to service—at no extra cost
It’s Time for Change
For the last 10 years, government has studied ways to improve the system for children and youth with special needs and their families. Read reports below:
It’s time to listen to the input of service providers and families. The time is now to respect the community planning process that reached consensus on removing school health services from the CCAC domain.
The future is at hand. Let’s place families at the centre of care. We have the means to achieve it—so let’s make it happen.