On April 18, Ontario Ministry of Health Deb Matthews announced changes in OHIP physiotherapy funding effective Aug. 1, 2013. The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care website reads that “We’re increasing the budget for these services from $146 million to $156 million annually and changes will double the amount of people who will get physiotherapy access.”
According to the Designated Physiotherapy Clinic Association (DPCA), however, OHIP-funded physiotherapy expenditure was more than $200 million for the fiscal year ending March 30, 2013. This translates into a drastic reduction of OHIP-funded physiotherapy for our most vulnerable Ontarians: seniors, as well as children and people with disabilities who currently receive physiotherapy.
I am a Registered Physiotherapist currently working five days a week on-site in Long Term Care (LTC) homes and Retirement Homes (RH) serving Middlesex and Perth Counties. With the current funding model, all residents in both LTC or RH are eligible for OHIP physiotherapy treatments — up to 100 treatments per year plus an additional 50 treatments if medically necessary. These on-site treatments are designed specifically to the needs of the residents, and include one-on-one treatments (pain management, strengthening exercises, balance exercises, etc.) and fall prevention programs to name a few.
Effective Aug. 1, 2013, the Ministry of Health promises to fund LTC homes with $58.5 million for physiotherapy. In reference to OHIP-funded physiotherapy expenditure, it was $110 million for the fiscal year ending March 30, 2013, translating into a 50 per cent reduction. This proposed change will reduce the number of allowed treatments within LTC homes from 100-150 treatments to approximately 40-50 treatments per year.
For RH residents, they can only look forward to 12 treatments per year in community/off-site clinics, or some unspecified level of service through Community Care Access Centres. Only bed-ridden patients and those with and acute injuries (ie: post-surgery) can access in-home physiotherapy treatments.
Ontario’s seniors require physiotherapy to maintain and improve their function, prevent decline, and keep them out of hospitals. This can only be achieved with 100-150 treatments per year received on-site in the current funding model.
How can the Ministry of Health achieve its goal “to increase supports for our seniors, to be stronger, healthier and able to live independently in their own homes longer,” with these drastic physiotherapy cuts affecting our Ontarian seniors, children and people with disabilities?
Grace Espe, St. Marys