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New Study lifts curtain on safety issues in home care


New Pan-Canadian Home Care Study lifts curtain on safety in home care settings to reveal scope of health injuries & challenges – Foundation a partner in this first-of-its-kind work offering policy solutions & tangible tools to make home care safer, more sustainable.

How safe is home care in Canada? The newly-released Safety at Home: A Pan-Canadian Home Care Study goes a long way in answering this question, by revealing that between 10 to 13% or approximately 100,000 – 130,000 Canadians receiving home care experience an adverse event — with more than half of these incidents deemed “preventable”. With over one million Canadians receiving healthcare services in the home, and as the demand for home care increases with our aging population, there is a greater need to ensure safe delivery of home care in the home setting.

Cathy Fooks, CEO, The Change Foundation says: “This study pulls back the curtain to reveal how the provision of healthcare services in people’s homes is a private and often complicated affair. In Ontario, given the province’s current Action Plan for Health Care mandated shift to providing care—where possible—at home or in the community, this groundbreaking study offers timely research insight to make the road ahead safer for both patients and caregivers.” Read The Change Foundation’s Summary & Reflections: Safety at Home: A Pan-Canadian Home Care Study.

The two-year study builds on The Change Foundation’s previous cautionary call to governments to plan ahead and not simply transfer care from hospital (and other institutional settings) to home without adequate support.

Key findings

Lead researchers, Dr. Diane Doran, University of Toronto, and Dr. Régis Blais, Université de Montréal, examined administrative databases and reviewed charts across the country which showed the rate of adverse events for individuals receiving home care was 10 – 13 per cent.

Over half of these events (56%) were deemed preventable, the majority of which were falls, infections, or medication related incidents. Through the engagement of patients and providers in detailed analyses of adverse events, it was determined that harmful incidents in home care happen as a result of: care planning and delivery inconsistencies, lack of integration within the home care team and across sectors, poor standardization of processes, medication packaging, equipment, and risky decisions made by both clients and caregivers that put client’s safety at risk.


Ontario was a focus for the study as its population is large and all the administrative databases needed were available. The team looked at data for 2008 and 2009 and was able to determine that the 2008 rate was 12.7%, or 48,461 people, and the 2009 rate was 13.3%, or 51,631 people.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), along with its partners The Change Foundation, Canadian Institute of Health Research, and Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, funded the study to generate new knowledge and help improve the safety of home care clients.


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