Champlain Local Health Integration Network
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Assisted-Living Services Help Seniors at Home  

February 7, 2012 - Seniors in the Champlain region are benefitting from a new assisted-living program that helps them maintain their independence. Funded by the Champlain LHIN and operated by various community agencies, services include homemaking, personal hygiene, care coordination, security checks, and a 24/7 on-call service.

The aim of the program is to increase health services for seniors in their own homes.  This relieves pressures on hospital emergency rooms. It also prevents premature admissions to long-term care homes, freeing these beds for people who need them the most.

“I don’t feel I ever want to go into a nursing home,” says George Girard, 79, who has angina and suffered a stroke that weakened the left side of his body. He and his 77-year-old wife Shirley, who is being treated for cancer, are clients of the assisted-living program coordinated by Bruyère Continuing Care and operated on a day-to-day basis by VHA Health & Home Support.George and Shirley Girard are clients of the assisted-living program, living at home in Orléans.

The couple resides in a cozy apartment in Orléans. They receive 16 hours of services every week from personal support workers who help with laundry, vacuuming, and bathing, among other tasks. “They’ve changed my whole life,” says Mrs. Girard, who was referred to the program after being admitted to hospital. “You can’t describe what they do for you, because they just do so much.” Family and neighbours also often drop by to chat or help with errands such as collecting groceries.  The couple says that without the assisted-living program, they’d be in a long-term care home.

In the Champlain region, 370 clients have received assisted-living services since the program began last year, up from 166 six months ago. Early results show that clients in the program – even though they are generally more ill – visit the emergency room less often than seniors who are not enrolled in the program. By 2013, more than 500 clients will be accessing assisted-living services in the Champlain region at any one time. Clients are referred to the program by the Champlain Community care Access Centre.

Johanne Forget, coordinator of the Bruyère assisted-living program, says the program works because it is flexible enough to match the unique needs of each individual client. “I make sure I know as much as I can about services in the community to help maintain people at home,” she says. Mrs. Forget coordinates the clients’ general care, conducting assessments of newly referred clients, and also responding to urgent calls off-hours. The Bruyère program currently has 51 clients on its roster. 

The assisted-living program is just one of the transformative initiatives the Champlain LHIN has recently put in place. 

“Seniors want to stay independent for as long as possible, and the LHIN works with other organizations to make that happen,” says Champlain LHIN Interim CEO Chantale LeClerc. “We want to ensure seniors transition from one area of the health system to another in a seamless manner, especially when discharged from hospital after an acute illness. The program is an example of how the LHIN is creating healthier, more caring communities.”

A number of agencies are coordinating assisted-living programs funded by the LHIN across the region:

-Barry’s Bay and Area Senior Citizen Home Support
-Bruyère Continuing Care (Ottawa) 
-Canadian Red Cross (Cornwall)
-Grove Nursing Home (Arnprior)
-Hawkesbury & District General Hospital
-Mills Community Support Corporation (Almonte, Carleton Place)
-Montfort Renaissance (Ottawa) 
-Ottawa West Community Support Services
-Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre (Ottawa) 
-Personal Choice Independent Living (Ottawa)
-Renfrew Victoria Hospital
-Williamsburg Non-Profit Housing Corp.

For more information, please contact Carole Ouellette, Communications Officer, Champlain LHIN (carole.ouellette@lhins.on.ca  or 613.747.3238).