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Physiotherapy Services in Ontario Has Just Got Better



The elderly in Ontario, Canada, can now heave a sigh of relief. They are now eligible for wider and better physiotherapy services, based on a plan by the government. The government has decided to widen the coverage of the physiotherapy services it offers to its citizens. As a result, the number of recipients who will be eligible for the services has doubled. Now, the government will directly fund medical clinics and hospitals that provide physiotherapy services. Earlier, the hospitals and clinics would first provide services and then bill the government.

About the plan

The government has decided to cover more people (200,000, to be precise) under its medical services plan. It seeks to provide long-term healthcare services, mainly to older people so that preventative care can avoid or prevent more serious problems later on.

The government will provide training on quality physiotherapy in various community classes and colleges. It will also provide physiotherapy services to at least 60,000 more elderly people at their homes. This will be a boon for the recipients of the service as many of these people, crippled by problems related to joints, muscles and soft tissues are unable to even move out of their home. The services may ensure that they will start to become mobile, more and more. Training to more community classes will create quality instructors and physiotherapists and that will contribute to closing the gap between the supply and demand of quality physiotherapists.

According to health minister Deb Matthews, “That doubles the current number receiving this care in the community, boosting in-home care and expanding to a number of smaller towns and cities that are currently underserviced.” In fact, the plan can send physiotherapy services to even those areas where people have trouble accessing quality services.

The best thing, probably, is that the plan is not contingent on the budget which indicates that it is here to stay. The plan is expected to be made available from August 2013.

Under the new system, the government will fund community clinics and hospitals so that they are able to cater to elderly citizens. So, the recipients of the services can avail of the services without any financial burden passed on them. Earlier, the hospitals would first provide services and then bill the government. So, the number of services offered could have been limited. The new plan may well help overcome this deficiency.

According to Amanda Stewart, the president of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association, “This is truly a much more comprehensive system and one that we’ve been needing for quite some time. We’re very much excited about what the future holds.”

The system does mean well and it is really now up to the implementation. There are, of course, a few questions that are being raised. The most important question is about the sustainability of the program. While there is no question on the intention of the government, given the enormous strain it is placing on the exchequer, questions are being raised on how the funds would be raised continuously. One keeps fingers crossed that in an attempt to fund the program, other development and welfare activities will not suffer because of fund shortage. Also, there is a need for skilled people who can execute the entire program, administratively and health-wise. So, a lot of challenges ahead.