Everyone has a voice on healthcare
By Monty Laskin
My father-in-law is a Paediatrician, as good a diagnostician as I’ve ever seen. He’s been at it for about 50 years, still plies his specialist trade (quite well I might add!) and has all kinds of musings about “the messes in the system that compromise patient care”.
There’s our own local docs right here in Caledon, all with strong views on what’s needed in the health system. I’ve had many opportunities to meet with them in the past few months as we’re all interested in improving health services in this community. The recently-announced Health Links are an emerging opportunity so CCS is working with our local docs to seize the day. More on this in a moment.
There are our Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), oversight bodies that help plan and land health services within communities across the Province. The Central West LHIN is Caledon’s partner and CCS works closely with them on things like specialized transportation services and supportive housing for seniors. Lately, we’ve been working with our LHIN to secure improvements in specialist services for Caledon that will serve all community residents and in particular, those who are the highest users of our healthcare services. We want to pay special attention to their care plans so they receive the right services at the right time. And most importantly, so they receive these services right here in their own community.
Of course, there are Ministers of Health and Long Term Care of every political stripe in the past couple decades, each having their own recipes for what ails our health system. The environment changes, epidemiological evidence points us in one direction or another, spending has ebbs and flows. And no surprise: Doctors, hospitals, community-based health providers and myriad health services all pursue the flavors of the day.
With all of these constituents weighing in on healthcare improvements, the health file is no small undertaking for Ontario. Indeed, healthcare presently consumes about 40% of Ontario’s total program spending. According to the Drummond Report, “if left unchecked, health-care costs (will) reach between 70 to 80 per cent of total program spending by 2030″. Enough said. There’s good reason to get on top of this and do all we can to get it right.
So who is missing from this cohort of stakeholders? Over and above these experts, there is really only one taskmaster who should truly be driving this file – you, the healthcare consumer.
Opportunities ahead can substantially improve health services in Caledon. Your voice is needed to ensure we get it right as decisions are made on how to properly resource this community. As communities to the south and north of Caledon develop specialist care services and approaches to serve their highest healthcare users, so too must Caledon put its healthcare needs forward. Gaps need to be filled and collaborations forged. And all for you, the end user.
Minister Matthews recently committed to a targeted approach to the highest users of health services. The government’s press release noted that, “…75 per cent of seniors with complex conditions who are discharged from hospital receive care from six or more physicians and 30 per cent get their drugs from three or more pharmacies. The result is decreased patient care that also costs the health care system more than it should.” Within a Health Link model, Plans of Care will be developed for these high users.
The planners will do well to hear from the end users. CCS is offering its voice to this file and we encourage you to find your voice as well. Check out the Central West LHIN’s website (https://www.centralwestlhin.on.ca/home.aspx) for emerging developments , let your primary care physician know what you need, attend community forums where healthcare planning is discussed. There’s obvious potential for Caledon to improve local services. Sometimes you only get one shot at it every few years. When the consumers speak up, there’s always a greater likelihood of getting it right.
Monty Laskin is the executive director of Caledon Community Services. His columns appear monthly in The Enterprise.