Kathy Wodzinkski wants people to know they don’t have to accept cuts to their home care services.
The paralegal with Community Legal Assistance Sarnia has been hearing from people who had home care services cut after the Community Care Access Centre in this area began re-evaluating who gets service.
The CCAC had a $5 million deficit when it began reassessing clients – many of whom need help to stay in their homes, but don’t have extensive needs. Wodzinkski says she’s heard from residents who have services eliminated by the CCAC after a brief interview or even a phone call.
“Any review is supposed to be formal reassessment – takes an hour and a half to two hours if it is done thoroughly,” she says adding she knows of at least three people who had their service cut after an interview of just 20 minutes
“People are also getting assessed on the phone – and are told ‘we don’t think you need services anymore.’”
Wodzinkski, who recently hosted free legal clinics for those facing the cuts, says people can have a family member present during the interview and provide extra information from their doctors. And, she says, they can appeal although many have not been told that.
“After they’re told their services are reduced or cut – and they say ‘I can’t survive this isn’t okay….I want to fight this,’ they’re being told they can’t.”
Wodzinkski says the province recently gave the local CCAC $4.1 million just for home care services for elderly and the cuts seemed to have slowed.
“If they’ve bought themselves more time great, but why did it have to happen that way,” she says adding even if the CCAC is facing financial pressure it “shouldn’t be pushing down on the most vulnerable in our community.”
Wodzinkski says anyone with concerns about their home health care services can contact Community Legal Aid Sarnia for free advice and in some cases representation.