The regional director of Home Care for Southern Health says she agrees with a recent study that predicts a big increase in demand for home care in the coming years. The report, commissioned by the province and prepared by Reg Toews, foresees the demand doubling in the next 20 years. Debbie Harms of Steinbach says she was not surprised by that finding.

2017 02 debbie harmsDebbie Harms"No I wasn't. I think it's something that the program managers and the staff who are working within the program have been seeing, when he talks about population aging, when he talks about recruitment, when he talks about the complexity of the clients and that increasing as they age and clients also wanting to remain in their home and the challenges of maintaining those clients who have complex needs."

Harms says there are currently 3,400 home care clients in Southern Health, including 1,348 here in the southeast corner of the province. She notes the number of clients is growing by 3 to 5 percent per year. She adds, one of the things that is driving that growth is awareness of what Home Care offers.

"Individuals in the communities and clients who are in need, because of the increased awareness, are accessing the services more. I also think that the need to discharge clients home from the hospital has resulted in facilities and clients looking for services that can assist them in managing in their home while they either transition into a long-term care facility or while they want to remain at home and want to leave the hospital in a more prompt time."

There are currently 750 home care providers in Southern Health. Harms says they are continually recruiting to keep up with demand.

"The resource pool is increasing in the sense that the schools for Home Care attendants are becoming more popular. Individuals are seeking them. However, the population is also aging and our workforce is aging so it's a one-in-one-out sort of scenario. So, we are continually in the recruitment initiative in order to maintain our supply of Home Care attendants and nurses and case coordinators to support the program and the clients."

Harms calls this an exciting time for the Home Care program.

"There are many challenges ahead but we're embracing them. The communities have been really good in partnering in different types of housing complexes, the Assisted Living and Supporting Housing, which is really beneficial to the seniors and assisting them to age in their own communities."

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