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Ontario introducing new home and community care legislation

File image. (iStock Photo)

Ontario is making changes to improve the home and community care system, in the hopes it helps keep people out of hospital who don’t need to be there.

Health officials said that if passed, new legislation will allow for more flexibility in the system, in part by doing away with service maximums.

“To ensure that Ontarians can receive the right care in the right place, and to help improve the patient flow within hospitals, we need to take a home and community care system designed about 30 years ago in the early 90s and bring it into the 21st century,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday.

“Patients will benefit from more flexible and responsive care that recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach is not the best way to meet their individual needs.”

More than 700,000 patients received home care last year and more than 600,000 people used community services such as meals on wheels, Elliott said.

Health officials said the new system will still see agencies deliver home care through contracts and limit the delivery of community services to non-profit corporations.

The current Local Health Integration Network structure to deliver services will stay in place for the next few years, but will be rebranded as Home and Community Care Support Services.

The officials said the ultimate goal is to bring the system under the government’s new Ontario Health Team approach of co-ordinated, community-based care.

Right now, patients have to go to a LHIN and work with a care co-ordinator within a rigid system, but under the new legislation, some restrictions would be removed, so that care could be arranged before a patient leaves hospital.