WRHA planning to launch new short-term intensive home care

WRHA planning to launch new short-term intensive home care

After axing the Hospital Home Team program with little notice last month, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is planning to launch a new intensive home care service within six months.

Gina Trinidad, the chief operating officer in charge of long-term care for the WRHA, says the new program is aimed at keeping seniors out of personal care homes and hospitals. They will be able to access up to three months of intensive medical care to stay in their own home after being released from hospital.

"It provides them with short-term intensive home-care and other community supports instead of assuming that a personal care home is their only option," said Trinidad. 

The new program could help to free up hospital beds in keeping with sweeping changes the province announced to health care last week. 

Trinidad says the new program will build on some of the positives of the cancelled Hospital Home Team, such as the integrated team approach to help clients transition out of a hospital more effectively. 

"So this provides them with a smoother transition to home with intensive short-term care. And it is really short-term to give that opportunity to see how they do, and give them time to recover," said Trinidad.

Other jurisdictions in Ontario and Alberta that have brought in a similar model, she says, have found about 70% of clients discharged don't need to go to a personal care home. 

She adds the new program is separate from an existing home care program in Manitoba that is not as intense.

"So instead of getting a visit in the morning and at night with regular home care, the specialized team will be in a patient's home more than twice a day," said Trinidad.

Based on last year's numbers, she says about 1,200 people in hospitals were set for a personal care home. Trinidad is hope the enhanced home care service will cut that number in half to 600.

The current budget for the new program is between $7 and $8 million for its first year. Trinidad says the money is part of the WRHA's plans to shift resources and won't affect the $83 million in savings it has to find.

The enhanced program will include physicians and rapid response nurses, but primarily be staffed by health care aides. More will have to be hired, but Trinidad says it's too early to say how many at this point.

The service is expected to be up and running in about six months.