August 2015

I hope you’re been enjoying our summer so far and that you will be able to make the most of these next few weeks before the rush of September is upon us. I know that I always used the last few weeks of August to gear up for back to school. In fact, I often think of September as a ‘new year’. It is a time for reflection and goal setting. It is a time to review what I need to do to ensure that my health and the health of my family is the best that it can be today and to plan on how I can ensure my health into the future.

Every one of us will eventually need to face the same question – What will I need in place to maintain a healthy, active life as I get older? What supports will I need? Do I have those supports now? What do I need to get these supports? 
 
Planning ahead and knowing your options will make answering this important question a bit easier for you and your family and loved ones.

Across the HNHB LHIN there are a number of supportive living arrangements that are available to us as we age. They include Supportive living, Shared living, and long-term care homes. Each of these living arrangements differs based on the amount of daily care assistance that is required. 
 
In recent years we have seen an expansion of Wellness Supportive Living Programs. In Niagara for example, programs in partnership with the Ontario March of Dimes, Community Supportive Services Niagara, Niagara Region Seniors Community Programs, and Niagara Regional Housing, help seniors live safely at home, longer. Attendants are available to help with daily activities such as personal grooming, transferring, dressing, bathing, meals, ventilator and tracheotomy services, and more. Such assistive personal care allows people to maintain as much of their independence as possible, while at the same time relieving some of the burden on family and friends who would otherwise act as the primary caregivers in and around the home.

The good work of the Wellness Supportive Living Programs has enabled 91% of the clients, who were at risk for admission to a long-term care home, to remain living at home.

Shared Living programs, such as AbleLiving Services, offer minimal to moderate care such as homemaking or personal care and support to help clients live independently while in a communal setting. More specifically, clients living with a physical disability or traumatic brain injury are given essential non-medical personal support services on a long-term basis. In the case of AbleLiving, the organization embraces the Independent Living Model whereby clients direct and customize the services they receive.
One of the client stories I’d like to share with you comes from Harold. 

Harold’s story: Harold has called AbleLiving, Binbrook his home since 1988. He was one of a group of 36 and enjoyed the rhythm and routine of the large shared accommodation style of living. He engaged with his community and enjoyed riding horses, visiting the local libraries and shopping centres. 
 
Over time his engagement in the community and his interests changed. He became more withdrawn and started at times acting out towards others including his housemates and the staff. He required an admission to intensive inpatient behaviour supports with local police involvement. There were many days he did not get dressed and instead chose to stay in pyjamas and declined attendant services. 

In January 2015 space in a nearby townhouse unit with attendant services provided by AbleLiving became available for anyone interested in moving. Harold indicated his interest and he now shares the two bedroom townhouse with another man. 
 
Harold now approaches each new day with enthusiasm and is dressed and showered every day without hesitation. Harold is taking on additional responsibilities in his home including shopping, meal preparation, laundry and cleaning. He has discovered the joy in planning and cooking his own meals and was so amazed watching his first pizza bake and rise that he couldn’t take his eyes off the oven. It is an experience he didn’t have before as the meals were prepared for him. He is becoming skilled at navigating public transportation with staff assistance and has even left behind his wheelchair and headed to the bank. He has gone out to many places including the local plaza for nail care and errands. Harold has mastered the new Lifeline system which allows him to reach a staff person when needed. Friends come to visit and he is proud to invite them in and show them his new home.

When you ask him how things are going at his new home, the answer is always the same - "I like it here, this is my new home and it was the right decision to move.”
Success stories like Harold’s can be found across our LHIN and are tremendous examples of the importance of providing the right care in the right time and place - care that addresses someone’s physical conditions while also enabling them to live as independently as possible. 

Long-term care homes are intended for people who require 24-hour nursing care and supervision within a secure setting. In general, long-term care homes offer higher levels of personal care and support than those typically offered by other supportive environments.

Each of us will have different needs as we age. This is why taking time today to make a plan for the future is so important. It’s a critical part of planning for not only your own health care needs but the health care needs of the system. What do you think you’ll need as you age? Don’t know where to start? Need to understand what’s available? The HNHB CCAC may be able to help – they’ve got resources available on their website at http://healthcareathome.ca/hnhb/en/Getting-Care/Patient-and-Caregiver-Resources/publications or you can call them at 1-800-810-0000 for more information.

If you or your organization would like to be featured in a future blog or share a patient story in one of our Voices in the Community videos you can reach us through our office, or if you’re on social media via our Twitter handle - @HNHB_LHINgage. Your feedback and questions are always welcome.

P.S. Last month I mentioned that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced that it would be appointing its first Patient Ombudsman and that the MOHLTC was looking to talk with Ontario residents about the position. People have been asked to identify the skills, experience and personality traits they would value most in a Patient Ombudsman and you can still provide this feedback until August 31, 2015. More information about the Patient Ombudsman recruitment process can be found on our website.