Elizabeth Jenkins, president of the Home Care Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, says a boost in government funding will be good for the sector as it works to improve operations. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)
Newfoundland and Labrador is increasing funding for home support agencies to try to ensure a higher standard of care and to allow more residents to stay in their own homes.
Health Minister Tom Osborne announced just under $8 million for the sector on Tuesday.
Elizabeth Jenkins, president of the Home Care Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the money will be used to help implement newly revised operational standards, a new service level agreement developed by sector and government stakeholders and a new payment model for home support workers in Labrador.
The money won't directly go to increasing wages, Jenkins said, but will make it easier for improvements to be made.
"At the end of the day, it's to increase the standard of care," Jenkins told reporters. "These changes enable agencies to continue supporting home care recipients in the province, allowing them to age in place happily in their own homes."
Osborne said the funding will help the sector and the health-care system as a whole as Newfoundland and Labrador's population ages.
"Improving the standards, working with the home-care agencies, working with the personal-care homes, all of these pieces fit together in a more fluid health-care system," he said.
Jenkins said the funding is "majorly needed" as new standards are adopted. She said the sector faces hurdles when it comes to recruitment and retention, along with the work that needs to continue to be done each day.
"Operating a home-care agency in the province is challenging at its best of times. Now we're going to be looking at the new standards, the new level of care," Jenkins said.
"We are seeing the complexity in the community much increased. We're bringing clients home from acute care sooner, post-op discharges. We are seeing the need to prevent unnecessary admissions to our emergency departments and acute care. We need to free up our beds for alternate level of care clients, so home care is very important."
The funding is being given outside collective bargaining, Jenkins said, which will begin in 2024. The association represents 34 home support agencies provincewide.