When the first wave of COVID infections began to spread across the country, government health officials and private health-care companies alike swung into overdrive in an effort to keep vulnerable Canadians safe. For Sandra Ketchen, CEO of Spectrum Health Care, that time was a baptism by fire.
Ketchen, who joined the Ontario-based homehealth-care company in March 2020, describes those challenging early days as a much-needed wake-up call for the long-term-care industry. “The pandemic is shining a light on home care and what is possible for senior care,” she says.
Spectrum Health Care, which has been in business for 43 years, offers an alternative to lengthy hospital stays and LTC homes with its range of personalized services — such as nursing, family-caregiver support and even bedside companionship — for a clientele that’s largely made up of seniors. Its 3,500-strong workforce includes personal-support workers, nurses and a Toronto-based support team that keeps everything running smoothly. In an effort to limit the burden placed on care homes and hospitals during the pandemic, Spectrum also began offering up new services, including support for COVID-positive patients.
Ketchen is keen to shape the future of elder care on a national level. She believes that a conversation about elder care and how people can be empowered to stay at home is needed now more than ever. “Lots of countries around the world have shifted to home-care-first models, and they have been successful in positive health outcomes and benefit to the overall system,” she says.
Spectrum is increasing its services with that goal in mind. Currently, it provides approximately 70,000 hours of home and nursing care every week, and Ketchen expects that number to continue to grow. “We aim to be better connected and integrated with other parts of the system (especially family doctors) and invest nationally in a workforce that can scale alongside the growing population.”