Hamilton to expand paramedic program for patients waiting for long-term care

·2 min read

Hamilton is receiving funding from the province to help patients on long-term-care wait lists stay safely at home.

The province announced this week the city would receive $6,481,800 to expand its community paramedic program to support those eligible for long-term care. The expansion will bring medics into the homes of patients as they await entry into a care facility.

The program, which is funded by the province, will offer an “added level of security and health care to keep (seniors) at home longer,” said Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly.

The service will offer round-the-clock access to health care, home visits, in-home testing, regular monitoring, education, and connections to home care and community resources.

In an email Friday, the ministry said while the program is focused on patients on long-term-care wait lists, others can access its services, too.

The program “will leverage the skills of paramedicine providers as ‘client stabilizers’ to ... help keep clients on the long-term-care wait list, or those soon to be eligible for long-term-care wait list, stable in their own home,” said the ministry’s statement.

Hamilton’s existing community paramedicine program allows medics to make non-emergency home visits to seniors and people with chronic conditions. It is reported to have reduced the number of 911 calls in the community by providing proactive care.

In 2019, the city’s community paramedic program saw 653 at-home patients.

“The community paramedicine program provides our seniors, their families and caregivers peace of mind while waiting for a long-term care space,” said Merrilee Fullerton, minister of long-term care, in a release.

In October, the province announced the launch of the expanded program for long-term care in five communities, including Brant County. A month later, 29 more regions were named as eligible for funding, including Hamilton, Halton Region, Norfolk County and Niagara Region.

The program comes at a time when the pandemic has created greater fears of living in long-term-care facilities.

A national survey last July found the pandemic changed the minds of roughly 60 per cent of Canadians on whether they’d plan for themselves or a loved one to live in a congregate care facility.

Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator