Ontario health system failing elderly, frail patients: report

A provincial report released in Sudbury states the health care system is failing elderly patients who either need to stay in hospital longer or who need help at home.

‘Pushed Out of Hospital, Abandoned at Home’ report released in Sudbury

A provincial report released in Sudbury says the health care system is failing elderly patients who either need to stay in hospital longer or who need help at home.

The report is a collection of data collected by the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

Information was collected through a hotline through which more than 600 people phoned — many of whom had similar stories.

“[They] would be neglected in the emergency room, would not receive the kind of rehabilitative support that you would expect in a developed economy,” said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

Michael Hurley is president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

“If they had lost the power to walk ... family members would [get the impression] ... their parent, their loved one, [would be seen] as a block in the system who [was] preventing that bed from being used more appropriately.”

Hurley said his family went through their own frustrations with the health care system when his mother was admitted to hospital.

“She was neglected and not walked [and her] vital signs not checked,” he said. “All our conversations with the hospital were really about ‘How can you get your mother home or to a nursing home?’”

Eventually, Hurley said a surgeon told the family his mother had a couple of heart attacks while in hospital and that medical officials couldn’t do any more to help her. He said his family was told to “prepare yourself for the worst.”

“So my … personal experience is that a woman — who was walking and who fell in her home and was transported to hospital — was basically neglected there,” he explained.

“They made the bulk of their efforts to get her out of there instead of taking a good look at why she had fainted, why she was sick and trying to make her feel better.”

Rehabilitation services cut back

The executive director of the Ontario Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists said rehabilitation for stroke patients has been drastically cut back in recently years.

Mary Cook said it’s not much better on the homecare front after patients are discharged to convalesce at home.

“We noticed statistics in the last few years [that] speech-language pathology in home care has dropped to 0.7 per cent,” she said.

“So if your family member or neighbour has had a stroke, they may not receive any communication therapy in hospital.”

Cook said she hopes the report prompts the province to re-invest in health care services, both in and out of hospital.


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