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Coordination and Communication are Key Areas for Improvement in Home Services

October 17, 2012
For immediate publication
Moncton, NB (NBHC) – The New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC) is publishing the results of its first survey regarding home care in New Brunswick. The overall results will provide baseline data that can help decision-makers establish benchmarks for New Brunswick and monitor quality improvement initiatives over time.
In terms of the services received, 97% of respondents were satisfied with the Extra-Mural Program, and 88% indicated they were satisfied with services received from home care agencies or home support workers. The satisfaction rate exceeds the rates seen in the NBHC’s previous surveys, which varied from 50 % to 90 % depending on the type of service provided.   
The Home Care Survey shows that 66% of the respondents had 3 or more chronic conditions, representing a very vulnerable group of citizens. The survey reveals gaps when it comes to collaboration and communication between government departments and between service providers, since the majority of respondents receiving care from the Extra-Mural Program after a visit to a hospital or rehabilitation centre.  The acute care sector plays an important role in informing clients of the care they will receive at home, just as primary health care providers need to be informed and up-to-date about all the care received at home. The integration and coordination among all providers plays an important role in keeping citizens at home longer and functioning as independently as possible.
Providing and sharing information with home care recipients and their caregivers is especially important since 62 % of respondents rely on family members and friends for care and support. Only half of the citizens receiving services from the Extra-Mural Program said they “strongly agree” to staff giving them the information needed to take care of themselves, and no more than 43% “strongly agree” that family caregivers were given the information they wanted when they needed it.  For Home Support Services, only 27 % “strongly agree” that family caregivers were given the information they wanted when they needed it.
“The survey results show us that the coordination and providing and sharing information between home care providers and the citizen and his or her caregivers can be improved,” said Mr. Stéphane Robichaud, CEO of the NBHC. “When someone receives care from different providers, it’s imperative to have open communication lines to ensure the citizen can manage his or her health in the best way possible, and therefore stay at home as long as possible.” 
This could mean spending more time explaining what medications are for, or better explaining how to make one’s home more accessible or safe.  
The survey results also show some existing barriers to home care. Some respondents indicated that more could have been done to help them stay at home, and reported difficulties with respect to the duration of services or the number of hours available. The limited scope of home support services was also cited as a barrier and can vary greatly from one community to the next.
The survey targeted citizens across all communities who have received home care services between the months of February and April 2012, with the cost being entirely or partially covered by government. The New Brunswick Home Care Survey has resulted in a sample of 4,246 completed surveys. To see the complete results, the NBHC encourages New Brunswickers to visit the NBHC website. An interactive map will help citizens locate the results at the provincial level, by health zones, and by community. The map can be found at http://www.nbhc.ca/what-we-do/care-experience-2012
The NBHC has been established as an independent organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health care system performance, population health and to engage citizens in the improvement of health service quality.
New Brunswick Health Council: Christine Paré, 506-869-6714, christine.pare@nbhc.ca