Province invests $15M to expand program that sends paramedics to care for seniors at home

·2 min read

Ontario is investing more money into the idea of using community paramedics to provide health care to senior citizens in their own homes.

The Ontario government announced Friday it will invest up to $15 million to expand the Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care program. This initiative will help more seniors on long-term care waitlists stay safe while living in the comfort of their own homes for a longer period of time, said a news release.

The program is not currently available in all communities. As a first step, the government is inviting communities to express their interest in expanding their existing provincially funded community paramedicine programs to include long-term care, said the news release.

Communities that meet the eligibility requirements will be invited to submit an implementation plan and proposed budget, outlining how they will administer a larger Community Paramedicine program this fiscal year, said the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

"The community paramedicine program provides our seniors, their families and caregivers peace of mind while waiting for a long-term care space," said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

"Expanding the program across the province means that more of our loved ones can access services from their own homes, potentially even delaying the need for long-term care, while still providing the quality care and service they need and deserve."

The program was initially announced in October 2020 in partnership with five communities. This included Brant County, Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board, the City of Ottawa, Renfrew County, and York Region.

Among the services provided in the program are:

Access to health services 24-7, through in-home and remote methods, such as online or virtual supports;

Non-emergency home visits and in-home testing procedures;

Ongoing monitoring of changing or escalating conditions to prevent or reduce emergency incidents;

Additional education about healthy living and managing chronic diseases; and

Connections for participants and their families to home care and community supports.

The ministry said the community paramedicine program is a way the province is collaborating with health system partners to provide innovative services and work toward ending hallway health care in hospitals, improve the long-term care system, and respond to the impact COVID-19 has had on seniors and their families.

Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com