Ontario Transforming Home And Community Care For Seniors

    McGuinty Government Investing In Aging At Home Program, Reducing ER Wait

    TORONTO, May 19 /CNW/ -


    Ontario is expanding its successful Aging at Home program and community
care initiatives to help more seniors live independently and reduce pressure
on Ontario's emergency rooms
    As part of Ontario's ER strategy the province is investing $272 million
to help seniors receive needed health services in the comfort and dignity of
their own homes and communities. The funding will also help to decrease the
number of alternate level of care (ALC) patients in hospitals and support more
timely discharge of patients waiting to move out of the hospital to more
appropriate services.

    In total, Ontario's investment includes:
    -   $187.2 million for the Aging at Home program
    -   $60 million for increased home care, personal support and homemaking
        services provided by Community Care Access Centres
    -   $22 million for Ontario's 14 Local Health Integration Networks
        (LHINs) to invest in local solutions that will address ALC pressures
    -   $3.5 million for nurse-led outreach teams to provide more care to
        patients in long-term care homes and help them avoid transfers to the
        hospital emergency room (ER).

    ALC patients are individuals in hospital beds who would be better cared
for in an alternate setting, such as long-term care, rehab, or home. Having
more home care and community services enables ALC patients to leave hospital
sooner, making more beds available to ER patients who are waiting to be
admitted to hospital.


    "Our Aging at Home program is providing seniors with innovative programs
to help them live independently. Our government knows that increasing
community-based supports for seniors will improve the entire health care
    - David Caplan, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

    "These welcome investments will help ease ALC pressures and permit
improved flow for patients. That means improved quality and safety and ensures
the precious resources of our Emergency departments and acute care system is
able to care for those in need. Making investments of this magnitude in these
economic times clearly demonstrates the McGuinty governments commitment to a
high quality accessible health system."
    - Kevin Smith, ALC Strategy Provincial Lead

    "Programs like Aging at Home are key to reducing emergency room wait
times in Ontario's hospitals. Strong community supports help patients return
home quickly from the hospital after a procedure and ensure that seniors
receive the care they need to live in their own homes for as long as possible.
This improves patients' quality of life, frees up hospital beds, and could
shorten wait times in hospitals' emergency rooms."
    - Tom Closson, President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association


    -   Ontario is investing $1.1 billion over four years in the Aging at
        Home Strategy.
    -   It is estimated that Ontario's senior population will double over the
        next 16 years.
    -   The Ontario Hospital Association indicates that hospital patients who
        are awaiting access to appropriate care elsewhere occupy almost 19
        per cent of hospital beds in the province.


    Read more about the Aging at Home Strategy

    Learn more about how lowering the number of ALC patients in hospitals can
improve ER wait times.

                                                      Disponible en français


                        AGING AT HOME SUCCESS STORIES

    Ontario's Aging at Home program and community initiatives, which ensure
people receive care in appropriate settings, are producing life-changing
results for Ontarians across the province. Here are some real-life examples of
the program's success:

    Going Home Program - Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)

    A 76-year-old Ottawa man, suffering from unmanaged diabetes, arrived at a
local emergency room by ambulance. After spending three weeks in hospital he
was ready to return home.
    At no cost to him, he received transportation home from hospital with a
medical escort, light housekeeping, a fix to his broken home plumbing, and
nutritious food from Meals on Wheels. After, completing the program, he
thanked the coordinator and said his apartment "felt like home again."
    Going Home assists admitted hospital patients aged 65 and older. It
provides a personalized package of services for 10 days. In 2008/09, the
program helped nearly 700 clients recover at home. The program's collaborative
approach among health care professionals can result in earlier discharge from
hospital and prevent unnecessary hospital visits.

    Homeless seniors start to create their own community - Toronto Central

    Kristina and her husband Nicola are just two of the 26 seniors in their
building who benefit from the Toronto LHIN's Neighbourhood Link Support
    Neighbourhood Link has partnered with Toronto East General Hospital and a
not-for-profit health and social services organization to create supportive
housing services for homeless, marginally housed seniors, seniors with mental
health and addiction issues or seniors living in abusive relationships. Giving
these seniors the tools they need to maintain their health and independence
relieves pressure on long-term care homes and hospital emergency rooms.
    Like the other seniors who live in their building, Kristina and Nicola
now have access to two personal support workers and a geriatric mental health
case manager. The staff provides assistance with daily living activities, life
skills coaching as well as recreational and other activities that increase
social contact and decrease isolation. There are 24-hour emergency services
available to all residents as well as friendly visiting, security checks and
telephone reassurance.

    Muskoka Seniors Home Assistance - North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN

    Following the passing of his wife, Gordon began receiving assistance at
home through Muskoka Seniors. The service allows him to continue living at
home by himself.
    Every Monday morning, a volunteer calls Gordon to check in on him and
invite him to a 'Friendship Luncheon'. Gordon gets a ride to lunch and a
nutritious meal.
    In addition, the service provides Gordon with transportation to medical
appointments and doctors outside the Muskoka area. He also gets access to a
Meals on Wheels program on days when he's not well enough to cook for himself.
    Because of this program, Gordon will be able to stay in his Fox Lake home
for as long as he feels comfortable.
    "Muskoka Seniors has been my lifeline since my wife died. I have enjoyed
good food and I can get out a bit every month. I don't know what I would do
without them." - Gordon F., Muskoka Seniors client.

    Wesway Respite Care - North West LHIN

    Wesway recently launched a pilot project that delivers respite care
services to seniors living in small communities throughout the District of
Thunder Bay. Respite care is an essential service for many families who are
responsible for the ongoing care of a frail senior.
    Here's how some family caregivers have opted to use Wesway's respite care

    -   A 79-year-old woman is caring for her palliative husband. Too often,
        she was up nearly all night tending to his needs and was becoming
        exhausted from lack of rest. For respite, Wesway arranged for someone
        to come into the couple's home for occasional overnight support, so
        she could get some needed sleep.

    -   A son who chose to bring his elderly mother home and out of long-term
        care was finding it challenging to provide ongoing care for her in a
        busy household with young children. For respite, someone comes into
        their home and helps care for his mom on a regular basis.

    -   An elderly woman with health issues of her own is caring for her
        husband who is a frail stroke survivor. He has always been a sports
        fan, so respite allows his wife to relax at home while someone takes
        him out to a hockey game.

    These dedicated caregivers need temporary breaks to renew their energy.
Strengthened by Wesway's respite services, family caregivers can continue to
help their elderly loved ones avoid unnecessary visits to the emergency
department and premature admission to long-term care homes.

                                                      Disponible en français



    Ontario is investing $272 million in a number of initiatives to help
seniors and others live healthy, independent lives in their own homes. By
ensuring that more seniors can get the care they need at home, this strategy
will help reduce the number of alternate level of care (ALC) patients in
hospital beds. By freeing up needed hospital beds, these initiatives can
reduce the amount of time that Ontarians spend in emergency rooms.


    As part of Ontario's four-year, $1.1-billion Aging at Home Strategy, the
government is investing $187.2 million in the program for 2009/10. This is a
$111.6 million increase over 2008/09 funding. The province's 14 Local Health
Integration Networks (LHINs) are responsible for planning and implementing the
    The money will help increase the range and quantity of services available
to seniors and help relieve pressures in hospitals and long-term care homes.
The program expands traditional services that help seniors stay healthy and
live at home. These services include home care, assistive devices, assisted
living/supportive housing and end-of-life care.
    The program also encourages innovation at a local level, by giving LHINs
the flexibility to start some creative projects that are tailor-made for
seniors living in communities with specific needs. To date, LHINs have
submitted 239 project proposals for new projects.

    Some of the approved initiatives include:

    -   Aging in Place, Champlain LHIN: The Aging in Place program provides
        comprehensive bilingual services - such as nursing visits,
        homemaking, physiotherapy visits, Meals On Wheels, and transportation
        - to approximately 2,000 seniors living in nine Ottawa Community
        Housing subsidized seniors' buildings.

    -   Personal Support Worker Escort - Transportation Services, Central
        West LHIN: The Dufferin Oaks Home for Senior Citizens provides
        seniors with a personal support worker escort and transportation. The
        program gives seniors personal care and escort assistance to medical

    -   Program for Community Living, North West Local Health Integration
        Network (LHIN), Marathon, Ontario: The program gives seniors help
        with daily living activities - things like seasonal chores, meals,
        housekeeping, home repairs and grocery shopping. The services are
        based on the unique needs of each senior. This initiative will be
        supported through a strong partnership with the local seniors'
        association and the local municipality.


    Ontario is doubling last year's investment to provide $60 million in
2009/10. The funding will provide an additional 5.7 million hours of home care
services to Ontarians.
    Last year, Ontario made changes to increase the availability and
integration of home care services. This included:

    -   Increasing the limits on hours of personal support/homemaking
        services by 50 per cent - from 80 hours to a maximum of 120 hours in
        the first 30 days of services, and from 60 hours to a maximum of 90
        hours in any subsequent 30-day period
    -   Removing home care maximums on personal support and homemaking
        entirely for patients waiting for a long-term care bed or receiving
        end-of-life services at home.


    In 2009/10, Ontario is continuing to provide $22 million to the 14 LHINs
targeted specifically at initiatives that will improve ER performance and
reduce the number of ALC patients in hospitals by supporting more timely
discharge to receive the right care in the right setting. Last year, LHINs
used this fund to:

    -   Reduce ER visits by providing additional community supports through
        supportive housing or by placing more nurses in long-term care homes
    -   Move ALC patients to a more appropriate health care setting as
        quickly as possible by improving the electronic flow of information
        from hospitals to long-term care homes.


    In 2009/10, the government is investing $3.5 million - $250,000 in each
LHIN - for 14 nurse-led outreach teams. The teams will provide long-term care
home residents with timely and appropriate care, and stabilize residents who
need more urgent attention. These teams of nurse practitioners and registered
nurses travel to long-term care homes to assess urgent problems, determine the
need for hospital care, and provide interventions (such as intravenous
therapy, antibiotic management and oxygen administration) in cases where
unnecessary trips to the hospital and the ER can be avoided.

                                                      Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Steve Erwin, Minister's Office, (416) 326-3986;
Andrew Morrison, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, (416) 314-6197

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Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

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