As pandemic restrictions continue, it is critical that post-acute rehabilitation is available.
To help regions in their ongoing planning, the RCA surveyed providers of publicly funded ambulatory and in-home rehabilitation services to assess the impact of the pandemic on their capacity.
The survey was conducted from mid-September to mid-October 2020 and received responses from 161 ambulatory rehab clinics and 24 in-home service providers across the province. The province-wide survey results are now available to assist in ongoing pandemic planning and a set of key highlights has been posted on the RCA website. Region-specific results will also be shared with Ontario Health regional leads and planners in the near future.
Ambulatory rehab programs/clinics
- Patient volumes declined dramatically early in the pandemic: In Q1 of 2020/21, patient volumes were 35% of the average quarterly patient volumes for the previous year.
- Capacity continues to be significantly reduced: Almost all responding clinics (94%) are operating at reduced capacity. The average operating capacity was 57% at the time of the survey and clinics were not expecting to return to full capacity in this fiscal year. It is estimated that provincially, ambulatory rehab capacity will be at approximately 81% by the end of this year.
- Many clinics adopted virtual care options: In Ontario, approximately 36% of all ambulatory visits are now conducted virtually.
- Waitlists implemented: 55% of responding organizations are using waitlists to manage their reduced capacity. The two most common strategies to address waitlists are providing patients with virtual care options (46% of respondents) and triaging patients based on need (24% of respondents).
- Service provider organizations operated at reduced capacity: 48% of responding organizations indicated they were operating at reduced capacity at the time of the survey. For these organizations, the average operating capacity for physiotherapy and occupational therapy services was 73%.
- Service provider organizations experienced decreased patient volumes early in the pandemic: Organizations that reported a decline in volumes cited a number of contributing factors, including an increased number of clients declining services and the decision to limit in-person home visits to urgent or emergent cases only.
The RCA wishes to thank all those who helped to promote and distribute the survey and the many organizations that responded. The RCA will be consulting stakeholders to determine the need to update survey results in spring 2021.
For more information on the survey, please contact Rebecca Ho, Project Manager.