Yukon government boosts home care spending

An extra $244,000 in this year's budget for home care was announced on Monday adding three staff, an increase of 364 per cent since 2002.

An extra $244,000 in this year’s budget for home care was announced on Monday adding three staff, an increase of 364 per cent since 2002.

Home care staff includes nurses, support workers and physiotherapists that can provide medical support, bathing, light housekeeping and other basic household needs for both seniors and others in need of specialized care.

But NDP MLA for Riverdale South Jan Stick says it’s “a drop in the bucket.”

“The 360 per cent increase is great, and yes, and it should be growing because our seniors population is growing. I would expect this.

“They can brag about it, but the reality is we have more seniors.

“It feels like a rush to catch up. We should have planned for this 10 years ago,” she said.

Stick said that one remaining gap includes overnight care. Currently, home care is a daytime service in the Yukon.

According to Christina Sim, president of the Yukon Registered Nurses Association, keeping people in their homes is still the most cost effective, as long as 24-hour care is not required.

Another remaining gap is intermediate care, between home care and continuing-care facilities like Copper Ridge. This type of care provides housing with shared dining rooms, group meals, laundry service and housekeeping but still allows seniors and others in need to live independently.

“We keep building seniors social housing and they can get home care but why aren’t they designed with a dining room for supper and laundry? We don’t have that. And for many seniors that’s what they want. They want a nice apartment but they also want to socialize in a dining room. We haven’t planned for that,” said Stick.

In March of this year, the Yukon government gave $50,000 to the Vimy Heritage Housing Society towards a proposed supported independent housing project in Whitehorse, the first of its kind.

Dr. Wayne MacNichol, Yukon’s chief of medical staff, said they have noticed the dramatic increase in home care and celebrate it. But he echoes the need to ensure assisted living needs are met. “This is much less expensive to build and you can provide broader range in support.”

According to Sim, “We need to ensure that big projects like Whistle Bend aren’t taking funds away from a gap in home care and assisted housing.

“We need to address the desire for people to stay at home,” Sim said.

Contact Lauren Kaljur at

lauren.kaljur@yukon-news.com

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