Area seniors set to now get home care under $4.5M program

Some St. Thomas and Elgin County seniors can now get in-home care through a $4.5-million community paramedicine program.

County officials announced Wednesday the launch of the provincially funded program to look after seniors awaiting a long-term care bed.

It will help keep seniors comfortable at home longer and reduce unnecessary visits to hospital emergency rooms, said Elgin Warden Ed Ketchabaw.

““It's really good for our community, as well as the city of St. Thomas,” he said. “And it's a good example of another synergy between two communities, being able to provide this service.”

The program expands on Elgin's ambulance service by adding two full-time paramedics to deliver at-home and remote support to residents. It focuses on monitoring chronic and complex diseases, medication safety, point-of-care testing and connecting clients and their families with services and resources.

The services are offered on a referral basis to residents awaiting long-term care bed, those eligible for long-term care but not yet on a waiting list, and those soon to be eligible.

"The . . . program will make a significant impact in the lives of residents in our region," said Lyndsey Longeway, paramedic manager for Medavie EMS Elgin Ontario, in a statement. "We are excited to work in collaboration with our partners to improve the well-being of our community while supporting the broader health-care system."

The provincial money, announced in November 2021 as part of an $82.4-million expansion of care in 22 regions, will support the program through March 2024. Similar programs are offered in Southwestern Ontario, including Middlesex-London, Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex and Lambton and Norfolk counties.

Feedback from other municipalities indicates the program helps reduce hospital admissions, Ketchabaw said. “So we’re very excited to be able to roll this program out and see how it progresses.”

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press