OSOT Advocates for Virtual Care Rates in Home & Community Sector
OSOT continues to advocate with association partners, the Ontario Physiotherapy Association, the Ontario Association of Social Workers, and Dietitians of Canada for virtual care rates that recognize the full scope service that is expected of therapists in the sector.
Further to initial communication of the associations, the recent increase in rates is undoubtedly appreciated by clinicians engaging in virtual care, however, regular visit rates are still not applied and members of all professions identify the additional time required to engage a meaningful telepractice visit with clients that compensates for the lack of travel time. The associations continue to meet with the Ministry to urge ongoing review of fees and engagement of front-line clinicians and associations in the ongoing development of the Home and Community Care Virtual Home Care Strategy.
In a May 7th meeting, the ministry's Director of Home and Community Care and the Executive Director, Ontario Health Teams the following messages were shared:
- The ministry was clear that it values the dedication, commitment and contributions of home care professionals, including dieticians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers, and appreciates the vital role you are playing in keeping patients safe while meeting their care needs.
- The ministry indicated that the parameters of the virtual home care program as they exist today will evolve and that future changes will be informed by feedback from associations, front-line health care providers and patients and clients.
- The ministry described that there was a need to put in place a virtual service home care option quickly as the pandemic emerged in order to reducing the spread of infection to patients and health care workers. While revisions to the program were made in April to reflect the feedback the ministry received and while the volume of virtual service continues to grow week over week, the ministry recognizes that more work needs to be done to enhance virtual home care to better meet the needs of clients, caregivers and providers.
- The ministry expressed interest and openness to working with associations and engaging front-line providers to better understand the experience of virtual delivery to date and to discuss how virtual care could be integrated into the continuum of service offerings as the response to the COVID-19 outbreak continues and beyond. These discussions would include recommendations to improve implementation, including considerations about compensation.
- Finally, the ministry appreciates both your commitment and your patience as we learn together in these unprecedented circumstances. They recognize the important role you play during this difficult time and beyond.
OSOT will continue to monitor this issue and will value member input regarding members' ability to integrate virtual care into their occupational therapy practice. Your feedback regarding this and the relative application of new rates to this practice will be welcomed at email@example.com.
Please note that the Society will be hosting a Home and Community Care COVID-19 Q and A webinar on May 19, 12 noon - 1:00 pm. Watch for registration notices for this complimentary webinar!