A Regina-area service that provides urgent health care to older adults in their homes is reducing patient and family stress and improving access to urgent health care services, say the patients and caregivers of those who have accessed the Seniors House Calls (SHC) program.
“This [program] saved us a trip to the ER, which is hard on people with dementia because it’s out of their routine and it makes them more confused,” said one family member in a survey.
Added another, “The Seniors House Calls Program . . . decreased my father’s use of the EMS (emergency medical services) system. This level of care is essential to seniors and pivotal in efforts for them to remain in their homes.”
The SHC Program is available for people 65 or older who have barriers to accessing medical services and who have urgent care needs. The SHC team does an in-home assessment of the patient and develops a care and treatment plan in conjunction with the patient’s primary health care provider (physician or nurse practitioner). In many cases, this circumvents a trip to the ER. The team provides post-hospital follow-up for those at high risk of hospital readmission and connects seniors and their caregivers to supports and services in the community to help them manage their health-care needs.
"One of the main keys to the success of this program is the consultation the team does with the patient's family physician or family health care provider," said Lisa Bratkoski, SHC manager. "It’s an integral part of providing a complete and comprehensive care experience for patients."
In its two-year history, thousands of seniors have received SHC’s services. So far, in 2018, the team has visited 3,650 clients for a total of 5,842 visits. This has helped prevent 646 trips to emergency and 180 readmissions to acute care.
Pictured are several members of the Seniors House Calls team.
Front row (from left): Cathy Nartey, Christina Darrigan-Skinner, Lindsay Purves.
Back row (from left): Kim Lato, Carina Folgering, Stephanie Hermiston, Lisa Bratkoski, Bonnie Geall
"The work this team does every day is vital to maintaining the independence of many seniors in our community," said Jessica Heathcote, SHC navigator and advanced care paramedic who has been with the program since its inception.
As a result of the program’s success, Primary Health Care is trialling an expanded team in South Regina that includes nurse practitioners, paramedics, pharmacists, occupational and physical therapists, a dietitian, community support workers (continuing care assistants), registered nurses, social workers, a navigator and an office assistant.
The SHC program started as a partnership between Emergency Medical Services and Regina area’s Primary Health Care service line. It was initially made up of a small team of nurse practitioners and paramedics based out of south Regina. Recently, teams of nurse practitioners and paramedics were deployed across Regina to support seniors in all areas of the city.
This program does not require a physician referral and is free. Anyone in the Regina service area can refer themselves or another senior by calling 306-766-6280. SHC staff are available from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. For more information, including program guidelines and how to refer, please visit www.rqhealth.ca/SHC or contact Bratkoski at firstname.lastname@example.org.