Media Release - December 20, 2007

Home support plan for seniors to offer flexibility and choice Offering seniors a menu of choices in accessing home supports is the focus of a plan in development at South East Local Health Integration Network 

 

December 20, 2007, Belleville – Offering choice and flexibility to seniors in getting the home supports that they want is the focus of a plan that was discussed at the South East Local Health Integration Network board meeting on Wednesday.

Seniors who attended two recent community forums stressed their need for flexibility and choice in accessing support services, says Georgina Thompson, Chair of the South East Local Health Integration Network. "Attendees told us that they want the autonomy to choose," she adds. "When the plan is completed in February, it will reflect that input." By this time next year the plan should be close to fully implemented. "This will be a great Christmas present in 2008 for seniors throughout the South East region," she says.

The South East Local Health Integration Network is mid-way through planning its $17M Aging at Home program. This is part of the province's $700 million Aging at Home Strategy to strengthen community supports for seniors living at home.

Board of Directors approves regional centre

The interim plan reviewed by the Board calls for an existing health service provider to take on the central administrative role. "The tremendous expertise that is already out there in the community will be central to expanding the range of choices now available to seniors," Ms. Thompson adds. "Our plan will aim to make the best possible use of existing resources. We think that giving seniors the flexibility to choose the home supports that they need is the best way to address any gaps in the current services."

The complete plan is scheduled for presentation to the Board at its February meeting.

Seniors want flexible menu of choices

Access to services for supported living, keeping seniors out of hospital as much as possible, and consistency of service availability across the region were the top priorities cited at the two recent meetings held to learn seniors' own priorities. The meetings in Selby and Nappanee were co-sponsored with the Frontenac-Kingston Council on Aging.

Attendees also discussed their need to have many access points throughout the community. "This is another way that existing service providers and agencies could play a critical role, by pitching in as access points," Ms. Thompson adds. "One of them can be the regional management centre to help coordinate and simplify service delivery."

At-risk seniors should be given priority

Setting priorities is all the more important because the $17 million allotted to the South East region will be phased in over three years, with $2.2 million in 2008/09, $5.4 million in 2009/10, and $9.7 million in 2010/11. With the highest ratio of people aged 65 and over (16.7%) of all 14 LHIN regions in the province and the fourth largest LHIN geographically, it is important to target services where the need is greatest. "Attendees told us that some seniors in rural areas, who are disadvantaged and living by themselves, are not currently receiving services. The most elderly and the most frail should come first," says Ms. Thompson.

Many seniors in this rural region need more help with transportation to a doctor’s appointment or other outing, said attendee Sarah Eagle of Maynouth at the meeting in Selby. "We have a lot of the services that we need in Maynouth, but it’s not always easy for the older person to get to an appointment," she said.

Attendees at the meetings also pointed out that maintaining social networks can be as important as health care and housekeeping supports. Apart from being essential in themselves, they said, social supports reinforce healthy living. "We are glad to be working with the South East LHIN on this important project," said Brian Brophy, president of the Frontenac-Hastings Council on Aging, at the Selby meeting. "This plan will recognize that a supper club or a telephone network are the kinds of things that can make a huge difference in maintaining health, comfort and dignity at home."

The provincial Aging at Home Strategy announced in August is intended to support seniors to live safely and comfortably at home for as long as they chose. "Our aim in the South East LHIN is to build on some of the great services that we have in the region now, address the gaps that are the most serious barriers for seniors who chose to live at home, and target services where the need is greatest," Ms. Thompson says. Creating a continuum of care is part of the mandate, she adds.

Pending Board approval of the completed plan in February, roll-out of the first phase will start in the spring of 2008.

______________________________________________________________________

For more information or interviews:

Jacqueline Prospero
South East Local Health Integration Network

613 967-0196 #220

Aging at Home on www.southeastlhin.on.ca