Expanding Physiotherapy for Seniors and Patients

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More physio for seniors is our plan - Editorial by Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews, as seen in the Toronto Sun - Sunday, October 20, 2013

There has been a lot of confusion about changes being made to publicly-funded physiotherapy in Ontario, so I welcome this opportunity to set the record straight.

It’s important for seniors to know we’re expanding access to publicly-funded physiotherapy, and that over 200,000 people will benefit from these changes.

The reality is we’re doubling the number of publicly-funded clinics, eliminating the wait-list for in-home physiotherapy and significantly expanding access to exercise and falls-prevention programs.

These changes are being made because we know keeping seniors active, mobile and healthy will benefit both seniors and the health care system.

It’s why, as part of Ontario’s Seniors Strategy, Dr. Samir Sinha recommended we expand access to exercise and falls-prevention classes and clinic-based physiotherapy.

In the words of one St. Hilda’s resident, Tracey, “The care I am getting with the CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) physiotherapist is really helping me and making me get better. There is a big difference from what I had before … I never knew physiotherapy was supposed to be like this!”

Despite protests from the handful of companies that profited from the old model, change was long overdue.

When I heard from whistleblowers about abuses in the old system, the Ministry of Health conducted an audit and those allegations were confirmed.

Too often, the government was being billed for one-on-one physiotherapy in retirement homes when, in reality, people were receiving group exercise classes. We knew we could get much better value for the money we were already spending.

Yes, there may be growing pains as the new expanded model is rolled out.

For the most part, providers under the old system have shared vital information to help their clients get new services more quickly.

When this hasn’t been the case, our CCACs are working to ensure seniors get the proper care as quickly as possible. They are working diligently through this transition period.

Twelve of our 14 CCACs have now cleared their waiting lists for in-home physiotherapy and over 770 sites are currently providing exercise and falls prevention classes that are open to all seniors, not just those living in retirement homes.

In coming weeks, dozens more physiotherapy clinics will begin to offer government-funded physiotherapy for eligible Ontarians, and more exercise and falls-prevention classes will begin.

These changes, along with new home care service for 46,000 more seniors and a range of new community supports, will help more seniors stay at home longer and remain healthy and independent.

That is both what our seniors deserve, and what is best for our health care system. — Guest columnist Matthews is Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care


September 19, 2013: Publicly Funded Community Based Physiotherapy Clinics for seniors and eligible patients

The Ontario Government is investing in physiotherapy, giving 90,000 more seniors and eligible patients access to clinic-based services in more communities across the province.

To access the current list of publicly-funded physiotherapy clinics in the HNHB LHIN, click HERE to be directed to the Ministry of Health’s website. Please note the clinics are divided in areas of the province represented by Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). Click on the HNHB LHIN to find the publicly funded physiotherapy clinic closest to you.

More publicly-funded clinics will be added in the coming months. Check this link regularly for clinic location updates.

More one-on-one physiotherapy, exercise and falls prevention classes for more seniors in more locations across Ontario

The HNHB LHIN is continuing to implement the recently announced improvements to physiotherapy, exercise and falls prevention classes as it had intended to do on August 1, 2013. We continue to work with our partners, including community support service agencies, community health centres, and long-term care homes so that services are provided for those who need them and there are no service disruptions.

All along, the LHIN’s priority has been to ensure that seniors, eligible community patients and long-term care home residents get the services they need to help them stay healthy, physically active and independent. Seniors, long-term care home residents and eligible community patients who need these services will continue to receive them.

The improvements were made so that additional seniors could benefit from high-quality physiotherapy, exercise and falls prevention classes, and to establish an equitable distribution of these services across Ontario.

This work is an example of how LHINs are creating a more coordinated and accessible health system built around the needs of patients, clients and communities.


Background: Helping Ontario's Seniors Stay Healthy, Active and Independent

On April 18, 2013, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care announced that the government would expand access to publicly funded clinic-based physiotherapy in more communities across Ontario.

A key objective of the program is to expand access to publicly funded physiotherapy services to communities that are currently underserviced to ensure these seniors and eligible patients receive physiotherapy assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

Each of the 14 LHINs is taking an active role in supporting improved access to physiotherapy for seniors, patients and their families. The HNHB LHIN is working closely

with the Ministry’s teams, healthcare partners and service providers to ensure enhanced access is provided in five key areas of focus, including:

  • Exercise and falls prevention classes for seniors in community settings;
  • One-on-one physiotherapy for all long-term care residents with assessed need, in addition to group exercise classes;
  • In-home physiotherapy for seniors and people with mobility issues to clear current waitlists;
  • Clinic-based physiotherapy services across Ontario for seniors and eligible patients.
  • Integration of physiotherapy into family health care settings, including Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics, and Community Health Centres.

Expanding physiotherapy is about ensuring seniors and their families have access to quality services and supports in order to lead healthy and independent lives. Our LHIN is committed to consulting with patients, health care partners and service providers to ensure those in our communities with the greatest need benefit from these improvements.

As the implementation rolls out, the LHIN will be using its website to share information and keep our communities, providers and partners as up-to-date and informed as possible. Please consult the resources provided below for further information.


Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Resources