This study examined whether it costs less to provide care in the community than in a long-term care facility and whether the outcomes of care are worse, the same, or better for community clients compared to facility clients. The study also measured the informal costs of care by identifying the psychological, social, and financial burdens shouldered by family, friends, and volunteers looking after clients. Information was collected through interviews with both clients and informal caregivers in Winnipeg and Victoria and through diaries. The study found that, regardless of whether only formal care costs or both formal and informal care costs were considered, community care was significantly less costly than residential care. Home care costs were about 40% to 50% of residential care costs in terms of the cost to government. However, informal costs were considerable: clients and informal caregivers contributed about half of the care costs of community clients and about one third of the care costs of facility clients. The researchers not that different jurisdictions may have different policies regarding the delivery of health care services, impacting relative care costs. A total of 580 clients were involved in the study.
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.