Respite Care in Canada
Respite care and services are not insured services under the Canada Health Act. Respite is considered part of home care services and depending on the jurisdiction may be partially publicly-funded. Most families pay out of pocket for respite services. Other families may go without respite services due to cost constraints.
An aging population and an aging family support system have major implications for respite services. There is variability in access to and provision of respite services and differences in the application of co-payments and user fees. Over the past decade, Canada’s health system has undergone considerable change. Care once delivered in the acute care sector is now delivered in the home or community; however, required hours of home and respite care may not be accessible.
The delivery of appropriate community, home, and facility-based respite services will continue to be a challenge until policy-makers realize its importance to the changing health system and focus on making access to these services more equitable across the country.
With this brief, the Canadian Healthcare Association, whose members span the country and the health continuum, urges governments to give the respite care sector and its caregivers the long-overdue policy recognition that they so deserve.