“Home First” Sounds Great. But What is it?

Allenby Boake does not like hospitals. In 2014, CTV interviewed the then 95-year-old about how the Home First philosophy had affected him, and he plainly stated that a week in a hospital felt like several years to him. Happily, Mr. Boake did not have to lie in a hospital bed while waiting for a space in a long-term care (LTC) facility – he did his waiting in his own bed, thanks to Home First.

Just what is Home First philosophy, exactly?

Home First: a bridge between a hospital and an LTC facility

The Ontario health system is responsible for providing health care to large numbers of people requiring different levels of care. Hospitals usually provide acute care to patients, while other facilities, like long-term care (LTC) facilities, provide a different kind of care.

If there were an unlimited number of hospital and LTC spaces, all patients would be where they should be, but there are not. A patient who is in an environment that provides acute care, like a hospital, who now requires a different kind of care, is categorized as an alternative level of care (ALC) patient: such a patient is usually waiting to be placed in an LTC facility, but there is simply no room.

Home First is a movement that provides some patients with the option of living home while they wait for a LTC space, instead of waiting in a hospital.

When is Home First a viable option?

Some patients need more care than can be provided to them in a home environment: Home First is clearly not an option for them. However, some patients are able to manage quite well at home, like our Mr. Boake, with some help from the Community Care Access Centre: it is these patients that Home First was designed to help.

What does Home First actually offer?

Home First opens doors for ALC patients, offering care from the Community Access Centre so that moving back home, even temporarily, is a viable option.

Community Care Access Centres usually have strict limits as to the amount of care they can provide to an Ontario resident, the Home First philosophy allows those limits to be lifted. This means that ALC patients suddenly have access to limitless hours of care for an undetermined length of time.

Home could mean a retirement home

Home First could mean being offered the option of living in a retirement home, ALC patients can get the level of care they need, in an appropriate environment, whilst waiting for a space in an LTC facility.

Is Home First for you?

Should you or a loved one find yourself on a waiting list for a LTC facility, experts suggest that you should definitely consider Home First if it is offered to you, with one caveat - do your homework. For example, make sure that you understand how much help you can expect when you are in your home, and whether it will be enough. You do not have to choose to go home before you feel like you are ready.

If you are with Allenby Boake, if seconds pass like hours when you are lying in a hospital bed, Home First may provide you with the opportunity to live in your home while awaiting LTC, or it may be that you do not even require LTC after Home First care. After all, several years is a long time to pass by in a week!


Written by Lorna MacNeil

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