Willie Foreman promised her husband, Robert, that she would look after him at home after he suffered a debilitating stroke and became paralyzed, leaving him unable to dress, toilet or feed himself.
But that became impossible, she said, after the publicly funded home care company that was supposed to help her husband of 50 years — Paramed, owned by long-term care conglomerate Extendicare — was so unreliable she was forced to put him in hospital, where he waited months for a bed in a nursing home.
“I begged [Paramed] to send somebody,” said Foreman, in London, Ont. “It was terribly frustrating.”
Nearly one million Canadians rely on some sort of home care support, but a Marketplace investigation has found a shroud of secrecy around companies’ use of public funds.
Interviews with industry insiders and documents obtained by Marketplace reveal a system with so few checks and balances that it’s leading to missed home visits, downloading of care and front-line workers so poorly paid they are leaving the sector in droves.
- Watch the full investigation Friday at 8 p.m. on CBC-TV or stream any time on CBC Gem or YouTube.
“We don’t publicly report or collect home care data in the way we do for long-term care,” said Tamara Daly, a political economist and health services researcher at the York University in Toronto.
“That is a massive problem.”
Robert Foreman says it was ‘much better living at home’ after a severe stroke, but the home care company contracted to help – Paramed – didn’t deliver, so he has to live in a nursing home. (Submitted by Willie Foreman)
Across the country, home care is publicly funded, but how it’s delivered varies widely. B.C., Saskatchewan and the territories deliver public home care themselves. All other provinces also contract private companies.
Ontario issues thousands of contracts to home care providers to deliver services to about 700,000 people — some companies are not-for-profit, but the majority and biggest players are largely for-profit companies.
Those contracts fall under a provision of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that shields them from public scrutiny.
“These companies have no pressure to be transparent, so we really can’t say that the money is going for good care,” said Daly. “We publicly fund this. We’re entitled to know this information.”
After Robert Foreman, 73, was sent home from hospital in 2015, Paramed was contracted to send two personal support workers (PSWs) to provide care, twice a day for 45 minutes.
But his wife said that at least twice a week, that didn’t happen — only …….