Enhancing home care access for Islanders
Supporting Island families
Islanders will be able to remain safely and independently in their homes for as long as possible with the help of three new home-care initiatives being developed.
The programs are aimed at decreasing patients’ length of stay in hospital; decreasing re-admissions; and providing timely access to the critical care that Islanders can receive at home. Home care is a growing area within the Island’s health care system that the provincial government is working to enhance.
“We know that the demographics on PEI are changing, and we are seeing tremendous growth in our older population,” Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell said. “We need to ensure that we have the most appropriate services and programs in place to care for our seniors today, and into the future.”
In the coming months three programs will be developed:
- one rapid bridging program will focus on hospitals;
- a second rapid bridging program will emphasize palliative care; and
- a third “check-in” program for seniors that will further support Islanders who want to be in their homes.
The rapid bridging programs are intended to bridge a gap that sometimes occurs when patients are discharged from hospital, yet still require some professional medical supports at home. The Provincial Home Care Program provides support for thousands of Islanders every month, however spikes in demand for service can be unpredictable and program intake does not occur on evenings/weekends.
With the new rapid bridging programs, paramedics from Island EMS will be able to bridge the gap between hospital and home. When necessary they will provide the appropriate patient supports upon discharge from hospital, until home care can assume care for the patient.
Advance care paramedics have the skill sets and the training to provide a variety of services. Paramedics also have a fair bit of down time between emergency calls, and the flexibility to travel across the province 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“These initiatives, through collaborative support of Island EMS, will help build on the success of our provincial Home Care Program, identifying Islanders who can benefit from home care services and foster earlier referral and access to the in-home care and supports they need,” said Dr. André Celliers, chief of Family and Community Medicine. “It is important to recognize that these initiatives are not replacing existing publically funded and delivered home care services. Rather, they are an example of what can happen when we work together with our staff and health care partners to support Islanders and their families.”
Over the past several months a collaborative team, including officials from the Department of Health and Wellness, Health PEI’s home care, palliative care, hospital services, long-term care and emergency health care, as well as Island EMS, have been exploring options for expanding in-home care supports. Discussions have also been underway with unions, staff and other important partners.
“Island EMS is looking forward to continuing the collaboration with our partners in health care, and we are eager to build on the success of the Paramedics Providing Palliative Care at Home program through these new initiatives,” said Island EMS Paramedic Chief Darcy Clinton. “This is a unique opportunity for Island EMS to continue to support allied health professionals in Home Care as we continue to work together to provide the kind of collaborative care Islanders can benefit from.”
“We are very much committed to engaging with staff and health care partners on all aspects of health care delivery, looking at ways to provide additional supports to Islanders to ensure they have access to the care they need," said Minister Mitchell.
As part of these initiatives, additional home care nurses will be hired by Health PEI to coordinate and carry out the necessary work for these new programs. In addition, a new NP for home care is being hired. This is a first step in enhancing support for Islanders who wish to remain in their homes and supporting the families who care for them.
Over the next few months, the collaborative team will be working with staff on developing protocols, process and care pathways before the new initiatives become operational. Last year, approximately 4,500 Islanders received home care services, with staff supporting approximately 2,200 clients each month.
The province is committed to enhancing home care services, which is an important publically-funded program. Additionally, home care was identified as a shared health priority of the federal government. Last year the Pan-Canadian Health Accord announced targeted and conditional funding for Home Care. There are parameters for how the federal funding can be used, including the fact that the targeted home care funding must be invested into new and innovative approaches; funding cannot be used to subsidize existing services.
For more about the Provincial Home Care Program, visit www.healthpei.ca/homecare.
Senior Communications Officer
Health and Wellness
About Home Care
Home Care provides a range of health care and support services to individuals who have acute, chronic, palliative or rehabilitative health care needs, including:
- Nursing care –including health monitoring, IV therapy, injections, wound care and patient teaching.
- Home support – Assistance with daily activities such as bathing and dressing.
- Palliative care – comfort and support to live fully until the end of life.
- Social work – individual and family counseling for illness, loss or end-of-life issues.
- Dietitian services – nutrition assessment and education.
- Physiotherapy – to maximize independence, function and mobility.
- Occupational therapy - support for daily living, special devices/equipment or modification to home/ workplace.
- Adult protection – for vulnerable adults who need protection from neglect or abuse.
- Long-term care – assessment for nursing home admission.
- Adult day programs – enriching social activities for seniors.
NEW - Rapid Bridging – Hospital and Emergency Department Patients
New home care staff will be hired to coordinate this program. Eligible patients may be discharged from hospital with an individualized care plan, developed in collaboration with care team. When home care supports are not readily available, paramedic(s) would provide treatments and assist with rapid bridging back to home until the patient can be admitted into the Provincial Home Care Program.
NEW - Rapid Bridging – Integrated Palliative Care Program
New home care staff will be hired to coordinate this program to support patients registered with the Provincial Integrated Palliative Care Program who are in acute care settings, by arranging paramedic follow-up at home in conjunction with home care and palliative care supports.
NEW - Paramedic ”Check In” Program
This program aims to serve seniors, living at home, who are at increased risk for poor health outcomes, falls, disability, or hospitalization. Seniors currently not part of the Provincial Home Care Program would be referred to local paramedics for scheduled home visits during periods of downtime, and would receive home-based services such as assessments for patients with chronic conditions or with mobility issues.
This initiative will help to identify Islanders who could benefit from home care services and foster earlier access to those in-home care and supports.
These three new initiatives are aimed at:
- decreasing patients length of stay in hospital;
- decreasing re-admissions rates;
- decrease emergency department visits by seniors for non-emergency concerns;
- reduce admissions and length of stay in long-term care as seniors will have additional supports in the community; and,
- provide timely access to the critical care which Islanders need at home, where they feel most comfortable and at ease.