The New Brunswick Health Council is hoping to shed light on why satisfaction of home care services varies across the province. As Callum Smith reports, gaps in care don’t simply come down to comparing urban and rural communities.

New findings from the New Brunswick Health Council show that gaps exist in home care satisfaction across the province.

Stéphane Robichaud, chief executive officer of the NBHC, says it’s not simply a matter of rural versus urban communities.

According to Robichaud, fingers are often pointed at a lack of resources, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

‘We need to do much better’ — N.B. Health Council reports home care shortcomings

“We also look at resource levels — how they compare across the province, how New Brunswick compares to Canada,” he explained. “At the end of the day, for most instances, we should be doing far better with the level of resources we have.”

Survey results from over 6,900 home care clients show overall satisfaction with services, but Robichaud says there’s more to it.

“These numbers do not give us the whole picture,” he said. “They (home care managers) need to get much better at setting targets so that we can appreciate, ‘Are we improving? Are we going in the right direction?’”

When asked about client satisfaction regarding the number of times a client receives services through the province’s Extra-Mural Program, roughly 54 per cent of respondents said they were very satisfied in the Shippagan area, while almost 90 per cent said they were satisfied in the Hillsborough area.

Extra-Mural is managed by Medavie Health Services and provides supports such as chronic care and palliative care, while the Department of Social Development manages home support services such as bathing, meal prep and feeding.

The executive director of Ability New Brunswick, which represents people with mobility disabilities, says the organization is experiencing the same issues.

“Ability N.B. continues to be concerned with access to Extra-Mural care, especially timely access to occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech-language pathologists, and access to home support services in N.B.,” Haley Flaro said in a statement. “Unless we improve access, we will continue to see unnecessary nursing home or special care home placements for seniors and persons with a disability and unnecessary extended stays in hospital.”

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Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development says the findings will help the department determine how it can enhance care.

“When it comes to meeting the needs of New Brunswickers receiving home support, a challenge that has been identified and continues to be worked on is the recruitment and retention of trained home support workers,” an emailed statement reads.

“There is a joint initiative underway between the departments of social development and post-secondary education, training and labour to develop a human resource plan to recruit, train and retain human service workers to ensure the needs of those receiving home support are met.”

The full report from the NBHC can be found here.

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