A Ministry of Health and Longterm Care initiative to increase the local array of paramedics specially trained to provide care to seniors is getting a $5.9 million investment.
The Ontario government announced Thursday they are investing $5,946,200 over the next four years to expand the Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care Program to Hastings and Prince Edward counties. This initiative, delivered by Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services, will help more seniors on long-term care waitlists stay safe while living in the comfort of their own homes for longer.
Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, and Daryl Kramp, MPP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington announced the funding allocation as part of an annual commitment of up to $54 million by the Province’s Ministry of Long-Term Care to expand the program to additional communities across Ontario following a successful launch in five communities last fall.
“As we work to build and modernize long-term care capacity in our communities, this innovative program will ensure residents waiting for a bed receive regular care from specially trained paramedics,” said Smith. “This investment will provide seniors and their families additional peace of mind their care needs are being supported as they transition to long-term care.”
Kramp added the proactive program will also have a positive impact on local health-care services.
“Protecting the health and safety of all Ontarians is our top priority. This funding will help our vulnerable citizens stay at home and out of the hospital. That not only benefits them, but it also serves to eliminate hallway health care and ease pressures on our frontline health-care services,” said Kramp.
The program, which will be funded through 2023-2024, will provide:
- 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.
Three-quarters of the $5,946,200 investment represents operational funding over the next four years, while the remaining allocation can be used to provide vehicles, equipment, and supplies.
Chief Doug Socha, of Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services, said families receiving proactive care from paramedics within the community have strongly embraced the concept and expressed gratitude that the Province is providing new funding to expand the scope of programming to meet local needs.
“Our area has a high number of clients on the long-term care waitlist, and a high number of older adults living at home needing support,” said Socha. “We plan to immediately train additional community paramedics in the expanded clinical care protocols to add to our existing program so we can increase the care in the community.”
Prince Edward County Councillor Janice Maynard was on hand at the Paramedic base in Belleville on Thursday representing the municipality and said the County was grateful this program would extend into the community.
Formerly a pilot project, Maynard, a former Quinte EMS board Member, saw the benefit for that city and is thankful Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care will be something seniors on this side of the Norris Whitney Bridge will be able to access.
“We look forward to seeing the results in Prince Edward County,” Maynard said. “This was a proactive pilot project and I think we all know practice care is the best kind of care for our seniors.”
Rick Phillips, the Warden of Hastings County, was also pleased to see this service extended to local residents.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news indeed,” said Phillips. “It will directly benefit people who are on waitlists for long term care by helping them stay in their homes longer and that is really important.”
“I want to thank Minister Smith and MPP Kramp who have been strong advocates for our community paramedic operations. Their support was critical, I believe to today’s announcement. Community paramedics play a critical role in supporting patients in their homes and have been on the frontlines of the battle against COVID 19. With this new money they can do much more to support our residents across Belleville, Quinte West, Prince Edward County and all of Hastings County”
Carol Smith Romeril, Vice-President and Chief Nursing Officer at Quinte Health Care, applauded the news.
“This is an excellent initiative that will help keep people home where they are most comfortable, without having an extended hospital stay. This will help ensure individuals receive the right care in the right place, and help preserve hospital resources for those that need them the most,” said Smith Romeril.
Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s Minister of Long-Term Care, indicated the program is yet another way Ontario is collaborating with health system partners to innovate and meet residents’ care needs as the Province builds a modern patient-centred care model and responds to COVID-19.
“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.”