Why analyse the use of home health services?
Home health services are often provided to people who are frail and may be reaching the end of their lives. Their purpose is to help people remain in their own homes as long as possible. These services are part of a continuum of health care that ranges from ambulatory to inpatient acute care. This report focuses on services reflected in data that are routinely provided by Health Authorities to the BC Ministry of Health Services. The Ministry does not track the full range of health care services used by seniors dwelling in the community. Health authorities provide some services that they do not report, such as case management. Community-based agencies do not report to the Ministry on the support services they provide.
Some jurisdictions refer to home health services simply as home care. Whatever they are called, they include nursing care, rehabilitation services such as physical and occupational therapy, home support services such as help with bathing and meal preparation, and supports such as adult day programs. All have been used to varying degrees at different times in BC, and their wide range makes assessing their effect on people extremely complex. Nevertheless, it is important to address this complexity as the number of elderly people in BC is increasing, family dynamics continue to change, and policies continue to evolve throughout the health care system. Achieving the goal of a truly integrated continuum of care depends on having a thorough understanding of how home health services fit into health care overall.