Health Sciences North in Sudbury says its making progress in its ongoing battle dealing with overcrowding.

The hospital managed to reduce the number of daily beds used up by alternate level of care, or ALC patients, from over 100 to below 75.

But some believe the focus needs to remain on improving care at home for an aging population.

France Gélinas, the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt, says better home care is the only real solution against hospital overcrowding.

"Aging is not a disease," she said.

"If we support people as they get frail, they can safely do that in their own homes."

Increase in funding needed

Sue VanderBent, the CEO of the Ontario Home Care Association, says while $2.7 billion spent per year for home care may seem high, it only represents about 5 per cent of the province's overall health budget.

"We need to increase visits, we need to increase funding," she said.

"We can't continue under-investing in the system, and we must lengthen visits so that people can get good care."

Local Health Integration Networks, or LHINS, took over responsibility for home care from the former Community Care Access Centres last year.

VanderBent says they have a pivotal role to play, but it begins at the government level.

"I think our new LHINs are just finding their feet. They haven't had [enough] experience yet in terms of home and community care, but they can't do that if the funding stays the same,"

VanderBent adds she'd like to see a return to longer visits for home care workers and their patients. She says visits that used to run an hour are now as short as fifteen minutes.

With files from Benjamin Aubé