05/13/2015 04:00 EDT | Updated 05/12/2016 05:59 EDT

Ontario moves to 'self-directed funding model' for home and community care

TORONTO - Ontario patients and family caregivers will get more control over the types of home and community care services they can access under a new "self-directed" funding program.

The government wants to transform home care with a three-year plan that will give patients a greater say in choosing a provider and how and when services are delivered, Health Minister Eric Hoskins said Wednesday.

The new plan puts patients and their caregivers first by improving access and expanding services for home care, added Hoskins.

"We know that people who receive care in their homes, where they want to be, tend to heal faster because they are happier and more comfortable in a familiar setting," he said.

The new funding program for home and community care patients will start with a series of pilot projects to work out details such as how the money will flow.

There will be different funding levels depending on a patient's needs, and service providers will be asked to submit ideas for other home and community care models.

The government said the pilot programs will "test innovative approaches to bundle funding specific to a patient's needs as they transition out of hospital and back in their homes and communities."

The goal is to give patients and their caregivers more flexibility and control over the care they receive by involving them more in the planning and co-ordination at the start.

Ontario spends about $4.3 billion a year on home and community care services, and its recent budget provided an additional $750 million until 2017, when it hopes to have its "self-directed" funding model fully implemented.

The extra funding will also provide 80,000 additional nursing hours for patients with more complex needs so they can stay at home instead of being admitted to a hospital or nursing home.

The government says patients will have the option of whether or not to participate in the self-directed funding program. People with more complex care needs will likely want to let their local Community Care Access Centre co-ordinate their care and services.

More than 600,000 Ontario patients receive home care services each year, 60 per cent of whom are seniors. Nearly 1.5 million people in the province receive community services including meals, transportation and caregiver support.

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