The third study used a unique Edmonton database of some 5,000 home care clients to examine the relationship between the amount of formal home care services clients receive and the amount of informal (family) support the clients have. In essence, the study asked whether those clients needing home care who had no family support received more formal service from the system than did those with family support at home. The first scenario is one in which formal care substitutes for informal care, and the second scenario is one in which formal care complements home care. If the sectors complement each other, an increased provision of formal home care will result in the need for more informal support. If, instead, one substitutes for the other, changing demographics (e.g., more working women, one-parent families, increasing aging population) will necessitate more resources being applied to formal care to offset future decreases in the availability of informal care. Using complex statistical analysis, the report found that formal and informal care are complementary, not substitutive.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.