Advocacy Update - Home Care Ontario Meeting


On February 7th, 2018 Andrew Lewarne, Executive Director and CEO of the RMTAO, met with Sue VanderBent, CEO of Home Care Ontario, to discuss challenges and opportunities in providing home care in Ontario.

The number of patients discharged to home care services has increased by 42% since 2012 and that number is expected to grow exponentially as the population ages and more demand is placed on the healthcare system as a whole. The 30 day return rate (the rate at which people discharged form hospital return to emergency and hospital care) continues its upward trend and it is estimated that 37% of patients designated as Alternate Level of Care (ALC) or those that do not require hospital resources have nowhere to go and so stay in hospital when home care would be the more appropriate location to deliver care.

Home Care Ontario is the organization that bridges the public and private delivery of health care. The health care providers that are funded by the public system, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists etc, are being forced to reduce appointment times to 15 minute increments in order to be able to accommodate the demand. This means there has been increased use of Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Physiotherapy Assistants (PTAs). A major part of the role of a PSW is assisting with patient's personal care needs, and the role of a PTA is to provide physiotherapy services under the direction and supervision of a registered physiotherapist. Neither PSWs nor PTAs can take any initiative with their treatment protocols, and can only treat individuals who have already been assessed by regulated health professionals. This is primarily because PSWs and PTAs are not regulated and therefore do not carry professional liability insurance. Fees for these services are variable and there has been increased use of Kijiji and Craigslist to find help that is more affordable.

Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) represent a viable health care option for patients receiving home care in Ontario for two main reasons:

  1. RMTs are regulated health professionals with the required professional liability insurance and the requisite training required. This means that RMTs can advance a treatment plan without oversight or having to require a new assessment each time. This saves time and money.

  2. Massage therapy is already being widely utilized by the public, demonstrated by the ranking as the most utilized paramedical benefit in extended health benefits plans. The public already knows and trusts RMTs.

While Home Care Ontario is focused on health professionals funded under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), there is an opportunity with private care companies to include Registered Massage Therapists. There is also an opportunity for inclusion with the Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINs) should the public/private partnerships allow for the inclusion of RMTs. Our developing relationship with Home Care Ontario will allow the RMTAO to increase opportunities for RMTs, particularly as an asset for the aging population in Ontario.