Provincial self-managed care program falling short amid rising costs

Despite skyrocketing inflation, self-managed home care rates have not increased in the last decade, say troubled households

Provincial self-managed care program falling short amid rising costs

The self- and family-managed care program in Manitoba, accessible through regional health authorities, enables individuals who require home care to assume management roles and select their own employees. The goal is to allow people more discretion over who enters their home.

But for people like Vishno Gupta, a quadriplegic living at home, it’s becoming more difficult to get the home care providers he requires, according to CBC News.

The 82-year-old, one of roughly 1,000 people in Winnipeg who manage their own home care, needs assistance with everything from getting out of bed in the morning to showering and eating owing to a spinal cord injury.

The money they receive from the province, he claims, isn't going as far as it used to due to rising prices.

"With the gas prices … [if] somebody has to spend $10 just to come here and go back, how am I going to pay $20 an hour for two hours?"

Health care assistants are paid an hourly rate of $21.40, while home support workers are paid an hourly rate of $14.50, according to rates established by the province. Since 2012, those rates have remained the very same.

Crucially, they don't directly transfer into hourly pay.

The cost of administrative expenses, including as deductions from the Canada Pension Plan and workers' compensation, is the responsibility of those who manage their own care. Users of the program claim that for years, the funding was insufficient.

Currently, it's becoming more difficult to find qualified candidates due to cost increases brought on by decades-high inflation and a shortage of healthcare employees.

According to Doug Lockhart of the Independent Living Resource Centre, clients who use the self-managed program often have roughly $14 per hour left over after deductions to pay their employees.

"It's almost that they feel disrespected in having to offer that type of wage to individuals — the same wage they've been offering for the last 10 years — and it's frankly quite embarrassing for people," Lockhart said.

Home care professionals that are qualified are similarly difficult to find.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority reports that there are presently openings for around 17% of its total home care-related positions.

The health authorities for the Interlake-Eastern, Prairie Mountain, and Southern regions all reported vacancy rates of higher than 20%.

An official from the administration stated that the province is assessing the self- and family-managed care program and "looking at the broad continuum of seniors care, not only just personal care homes."

This also includes community-based care, supported housing, and caregiver services.

The province of Manitoba announced earlier this month that it would allocate $16 million toward the hiring of 72 nurses and 350 healthcare assistants for personal care homes.