Canadian Home Care Policy and Practice in Rural and Remote Settings: Challenges and Solutions
Journal of Agromedicine: Practice, Policy and Research
With the aging of the population, especially in Canadian rural areas, providing home care services will be particularly challenging as care is needed by increasingly vulnerable rural older adults in increasingly vulnerable rural settings with fewer services, supports, and caregivers. The purpose of this paper is to present examples of the federal (e.g., First Nations and Inuit Home and Community Care) and provincial (e.g., Ontario's Community Care Access Centres) home care policy context in which Canadian home care is provided, to identify the challenges faced by home care providers in meeting the needs of rural residents, and to offer solutions to these challenges. The most pressing challenges in aging rural settings are to ensure effective access to quality health care services and to address the shortage of home care providers, especially registered nurses. Provincial and federal home care models would be enhanced by an integrative model of continuing care and a national home care framework that would address the broader funding and human resource issues. Other uniquely rural recruitment and retention strategies are suggested such as maximizing the “fit” between the home care provider's attributes and the needs and expectations of the rural community. Sufficient public funding and resources for rural and remote home care programs are needed to develop and implement (1) the expanded role of case managers; (2) health care teams that include both professionals and paraprofessionals; (3) standardized assessment tools and reporting systems; (4) innovative use and training in the use of technology; and (5) partnerships that optimize resources and build support networks for rural home care providers, clients, and family and friend caregivers.