The Niagara Ontario Health Team – Équipe Santé Ontario Niagara and partner organizations have received $500,000 from Ontario Health West to implement a new program for some hospital patients to transition from an emergency department setting to their homes and receive community supports while they recover.
Let’s Go Home (LEGHO) also aims to decrease the number of hospital admissions and placements in acute care beds for people 65 years of age or older with a non-acute clinical diagnosis or living with dementia. The base funding received from Ontario Health West will assist approximately 300 people in leaving the hospital with a stable care plan based on each person’s needs. Services are time-limited and will be available for up to six consecutive weeks, with the option to access LEGHO a second time.
“Through the program, emergency department staff will identify patients that meet eligibility criteria and refer them to the LEGHO Navigator, who will then connect people to service agencies,” said Carolyn Askeland, Executive Director of Community Support Services of Niagara, the program’s lead organization.
“We know about 275 people who match our eligibility criteria visit emergency departments in Niagara every year due to an ailment of a non-urgent nature. The reasons could include greater dependence on care providers, reduced mobility, more assistance with personal care, or not being connected to community agencies equipped to support them in their homes.”
The bundle of services offered through LEGHO include meal delivery, transportation from the hospital and to follow-up appointments, homemaking, and wellness checks. Patients will not have to pay for the services offered, and program staff can assist patients in connecting to longer-term supports provided by community agencies if required.
“This initiative is critical for the success of our health care system in Niagara and its transformation,” added Askeland. “The program will also demonstrate how our clinicians can work with the community support services sector to ensure our vulnerable citizens receive the right care at the right time and place.”
LEGHO will be launched later this month once the staff is hired, hospital employees are trained, and service coordination between partners is finalized.
The initiative is based on a pilot program from the Brantford Brant Ontario Health Team. In its first year, the pilot saw an admission diversion rate of 62 per cent and an estimated savings of $7.3 million.
The organizations partnering in the LEGHO initiative include Community Support Services of Niagara, Niagara Health, Home and Community Care Support Services Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant, Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre, Positive Living Niagara, Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Palliative Care, Heidehof Long Term Care Home, Meals on Wheels Port Colborne, Brain Injury Community Re-entry Niagara, Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region, Meals on Wheels Thorold/St. Catharines, March of Dimes Canada – Niagara, Hospice Niagara, Radiant Care – Pleasant Manor/Tabor Manor, Niagara Region Senior Community Services, Meals on Wheels Niagara Falls/Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort Erie Meals on Wheels, and Canadian Red Cross – Niagara Region Branch.