As our population ages, so does the importance of having a reliable healthcare network. Seniors in particular often experience medically-related challenges that require the ongoing support of a primary care physician or the assistance from a family health team. Whether the help is needed during their stay at a hospital, at a senior’s residence, long-term care facility, or as part of palliative care, the role of the primary care provider and their team is critical.
Yet many in their advanced years often worry about access to the services and care provided by a doctor. In some instances, the elderly have unique and complex care needs that require the support of a physician as well as a specialized team that understands the unique medical challenges faced by seniors. Those in the aging population are often concerned about:
Added to these concerns are the very real and practical considerations related to their medical care. For those who have limited mobility or little access to transportation, the issue of how they will get to their medical appointments or be seen by a doctor is also a particular source of worry.
As part of an overall focus on healthier seniors, there are a number of organizations that work hand-in-hand with primary care in order to facilitate an integrated and ultimately more effective method of delivering healthcare to seniors.
The Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) works from a client-centered model of care that supports the practice of people working directly with their doctors and primary care teams to arrive at the best course of care.
In 2014, the Canadian Home Care Association awarded the Toronto Central CCAC with a High Impact Practice designation. This recognition acknowledged CCAC’s launch of the Integrated Client Care Program (ICCP) for older adults with complex needs that now serves as a fully integrated service delivery model for dozens of ICCP partner organizations within the Toronto area At the core of these delivery models are clients – often seniors – with complex needs working directly with doctors and their primary care teams with the goal of receiving the most effective and supportive healthcare delivery possible.
For the elderly, this type of care allows for a more comprehensive support network that can more specifically address their needs. A fully integrated healthcare team includes not only physicians, but nurses, nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals which allow seniors with complex medical issues to receive the level of care that they require.
Primary care providers often assist seniors in need of local, community based information by referring to TorontoCentralHealthline.ca. A great resource that provides local health-related information, doctors, caregivers and patients can all use this service. By entering a postal code into the site, details regarding community resources, healthcare services and more can be found by those in need. Health Care Connect
The Ontario Health Care Connect is a provincial help-line which helps people without a family doctor to those accepting new patients. With a valid OHIP card, interested parties can register with the program by calling 1-800-445-1822 online or by visiting ontario.ca/healthcareconnect for details.
Most seniors want to remain in their homes as long as possible while managing their own healthcare needs as appropriate. Patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are now able to self-report the status of their health and manage their illness. Through the Telehomecare program offered through the Toronto Central CCAC, seniors are supported through monitoring their own blood pressure, weight, heart rate and pulse. With the telephone guidance of a nurse or nurse practitioner, seniors are able to manage their health comfortably, at home.
For more information about support provided through Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre, call the main line at (416) 506-9888 or visit healthcareathome.ca.
Dipti Purbhoo is the Senior Director of Client Services at the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre.