Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

House calls return with 'home teams'

Program designed to keep elderly people out of hospitals

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Doctors will be making more house calls to seniors in Winnipeg as part of a new program that will attempt to keep elderly patients in fragile health in their homes -- and out of hospitals and personal-care homes -- for as long as possible.

The province announced Monday it is launching two "hospital home teams," which will care for a total of 100 patients starting in the new year. One will work out of the Access River East health centre, which piloted the concept, and the other out of Deer Lodge Centre's seniors clinic. More locations are expected to be added in the future.

The teams will consist of a doctor, a home-care worker and either a nurse or a nurse-practitioner. They will care for folks who might otherwise be forced from their homes due to increasingly serious medical issues.

A pilot project last year found the use of the teams reduced hospital admissions of such patients by more than 50 per cent and decreased trips to emergency departments.

Dr. Paul Sawchuk, who was involved in the pilot project, said he was happy to see it become a permanent program. "I expect that it will help people live better and longer in their homes and require hospital less," he said at the announcement at Deer Lodge.

The province also said it would introduce more home-based rehabilitation services to help seniors recover and improve their independence and well-being after events such as stroke, injury or surgery. Depending on their needs, they will receive house calls from physiotherapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation aides or other professionals.

The services will be expanded first in Winnipeg and the southern and western health regions in rural Manitoba, the government said. They will include services such as home stroke rehabilitation, home safety assessments, adaptation recommendations and fall prevention.

Both programs will cost $1.2 million per year to operate, Premier Greg Selinger said.

Meanwhile, the province said it is calling for proposals to provide 200 new personal-care-home beds in Winnipeg that were promised in last week's speech from the throne.

Lori Lamont, vice-president and chief nursing officer with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said the region is leaning toward the construction of two care homes.

The locations of the new homes are still to be decided, Lamont said, but she noted "wait lists tend to be the longest in the northeast part of the city and in the south (of Winnipeg)."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 27, 2012 A6

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