For thousands of Islanders, home is where the care is
Shelley Heron knows first hand that the home care program on Prince Edward Island is expecting continued growth in the years to come – and that’s good news for Islanders and the province’s health system.
Health PEI’s Home Care Program helps Islanders – who are faced with illness or age-related challenges – stay in their homes as long as safely possible.
It’s a self referred program, which means an individual (or their caregiver) can reach out to the program for assistance. Physicians can also refer people to home care.
“As our population ages -- and especially as some of the people now approaching retirement get a bit older -- I think we’ll see a lot more interest in home care and in supports that allow people to live independently,” said Heron, Health PEI’s home care coordinator for the Queens Region. “It’s an approach that people like better and it is more cost effective than being in a nursing home or acute care facility.”
Approximately 4,370 Islanders received home care services in 2017-18, with staff supporting about 2,200 clients each month.
Queens County home care physiotherapist Deina Perry said the home care team works together to deliver programs and services based on assessed need, to ensure that people get the key supports they need to safely remain independent. That can mean a wide range of health services, including home support workers, nurses (RN and LPN), care coordinators, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and dietitian, as well as access to Care Admission and Adult Day Programs.
“Someone may be starting out with a physiotherapist visiting them at home, but then the physiotherapist could notice other needs and help the client to meet with other health professionals that could help out,” she said. “That might mean having someone help them by providing health supports in the home, or it could be as straightforward as arranging for some respite care for a high level care client so that the caregiver can have a few hours a week to go out and have a break or even to just run errands.”
Perry and Heron said that they have both seen the improvement home care has made in the quality of life and overall happiness of clients.
“The important thing with home care is that it is the client – the patient and their caregiver – who is making the choice,” Heron said. “People strongly prefer to remain in their home and to care for loved ones at home.
“By contacting home care, they can see what services we provide, and we can work on a plan that will hopefully allow them to remain where they want to be.”