Alyn Duggan

Alyn Duggan

Fraser Health aims to divert elderly back home from hospitals

Officials pledge community supports are ready to handle planned shift

Fraser Health is stepping up efforts to steer seniors away from costly hospital or long-term care beds if they can be supported and treated in their own homes.

The health authority has hired five quick response case managers – based at Royal Columbian, Surrey Memorial, Burnaby, Abbotsford Regional and Peace Arch hospitals – to work with geriatric nurses to flag incoming patients at ERs who can instead be sent home with bolstered supports.

That’s one of a series of initiatives underway collectively dubbed “Home is Right” – a broad effort to change the mindset of hospital officials, health care workers and families.

“Home with appropriate supports – not hospital, not residential care – is the best place for seniors to manage their chronic conditions and live out their final days,” says Lynda Foley, Fraser Health’s executive director of home health and end of life care.

Most seniors prefer to stay in their own homes, with their pets, belongings and family.

They have what they need, can be more active and social, and they avoid the risks of hospital-borne infections.

Parked in a wheelchair or stretcher in hospital, they can quickly lose muscle strength and typically take longer to recover.

And hospitals will simply hit a breaking point as the demographic bulge of seniors grows if the chronically ill elderly continue to be primarily handled by the acute care system.

“We know that tsunami is coming at us,” Foley said. “If we don’t change the system, we’re not going to be able to sustain it into the future.”

The trick is to deliver needed supports into homes.

Foley said that strategic shift is underway and has been gaining momentum since January, when Fraser Health formally set home care as the first option to be considered for elderly patients who no longer need a hospital bed.

She gives the example of an 85-year-old man who arrives at hospital with symptoms from his end-stage heart disease.

He might not be admitted but instead diverted from the ER back home where whatever care is needed can be arranged.

The quick response care manager who made that decision would actually accompany him home, check his medications, assess the situation and arrange follow up care by a family doctor, geriatrician and other support staff – coordinated by a community case manager.

Other patients who must be admitted to hospital because of more serious symptoms can be stabilized and then shifted more quickly back to home if the necessary supports are there.

The region has already increased home support service by 11 per cent over the past year, to 169,000 hours a month.

The region is hiring more home support workers, who can help with grooming, bathing and managing medications.

Physiotherapists, nurses and other professionals can be dispatched to the home to provide treatment and ensure the home is safe.

Eight more home health liaisons have also been added to hospitals – they check on admitted patients daily to determine which ones can soon be discharged and start arranging home support services.

Put together, officials are betting the Home is Best strategy will cut wait times for residential care and free up hospital beds for the patients who most need them.

The shift to home has been talked about for years, but Foley says much more support is now in place than in the past.

They include programs like seniors day care, which might let an elderly woman taking care of her much more ill husband get a few hours break to pay the bills, shop or take time for herself.

Longer term respite care could even let her take a vacation.

Home care spending in Fraser Health has swelled to nearly $200 million a year, providing some kind of care or service in the home to 15,000 people daily.

Some services are free, while in other cases patients pay fees based on income or are billed for supplies.

Foley is ready for skeptics who may think the diverted seniors will end up under-treated in the name of saving the system money.

“I believe the system has to step up and flex its muscle and show we can do what we want to do,” Foley said.

Dr. Grace Park, medical director for Fraser’s home health program, says the redesign of services underway should ensure seniors feel supported and safe living at home.

“Families often worry that their elderly loved one is too frail to live at home and should go to a residential care facility,” Park said. “They need confidence that adequate community and home support programs will be there and that their care will be coordinated by the health care team.”

 

MORE RESOURCES

More info at http://www.fraserhealth.ca/your_care/home_health_services/Download Let’s Get You Home booklet (PDF)Download Let’s Keep You Home booklet (PDF)

VIDEO

Fraser Health video describing Home is Best strategy and in-home services.

Just Posted

Rohan arul-Pragasam, Chilliwack School District’s interim superintendent, has been appointed superintendent of schools effective June 15, 2021. (Chilliwack School District)
Interim position becomes permanent for Rohan Arul-pragasam at Chilliwack School District

Arul-pragasam said he was ‘humbled to continue as a steward’ in new role as superintendent of schools

PlanCultus was adopted in 2017 as a guiding document for Cultus Lake Park. (Cultus Lake Park Board)
More affordable housing options could be coming to Cultus Lake Park

Online survey opened on June 14 to gauge opinion on plaza redevelopment eyed for Village Centre

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read