A critical policy analysis of an emerging agenda for home care in one Canadian province

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Abstract

Amidst projections of the increased care demands and expectations for home care, policy in this area demands urgent attention. Home care is inherently complex as it challenges us to deliberate fundamental issues of responsibility for care, and the limits of care for people in their most immediate contexts and needs. This research takes the form of a critical policy analysis of the interaction of the context, process and content of policy proposals in home care in a regional health system in one Canadian province. The method of study includes thematic and comparative analyses of perspectives derived from policy documents, and interviews with policy actors (decision-makers, healthcare providers, public advocates) regarding their perspectives of policy problems and processes. The content and process of policy in home care interact in important ways with political, economic, social and historical contexts. This critical analysis revealed that the emerging policy agenda in regional home care is one of medicalisation, which stands in contrast to the principles of primary health care, and potentially leads to further marginalisation of the most vulnerable. This contrast is characterised by tensions between the fundamental values of equity and efficiency, choice and universality, and public vis-à-vis individual responsibility for the provision of care.

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