WHITBY — As part of its plan to build a stronger, more resilient health care system that can better respond to patient needs, the Ontario government is investing up to $5 million to establish a new, comprehensive community post-stroke rehabilitation program for adult stroke patients of all ages. This year’s initial investment will be followed by ongoing investments in the future to ensure that all Ontarians have access to high-quality post-stroke care in their community once they leave a hospital.
“Developing a comprehensive community post-stroke rehabilitation program is another way our government is building a stronger, more resilient health care system so that patients of all ages can focus on getting better,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This investment is a critical step towards providing better rehabilitation care for those who suffered a stroke and ensuring equitable access to the high-quality care they need in their community.”
Currently, access to post-stroke therapies varies across the province and patients are often left to coordinate their own care. A provincewide community post-stroke rehabilitation program would ensure consistent access to these important therapies for all adults regardless of their age or where they live. This is especially important for younger adults who often require comprehensive post-stroke rehabilitation care to address challenges such as returning to work and driving.
As a first step to developing the new community post-stroke rehabilitation program, the government has asked Ontario Health to assess the current state of community stroke rehabilitation services and map access points to these services. This will help identify immediate opportunities to improve access to coordinated post-stroke care by leveraging existing resources developed in collaboration with sector partners. In this first year, up to $1.6 million will be used to support patient services based on the results of Ontario Health’s initial needs assessment and help make community programs more accessible to Ontarians, while also building on best practices.
“Most patients who experience a stroke will require access to comprehensive interprofessional stroke rehabilitation services after their hospital stay,” said Matthew Anderson, President and CEO of Ontario Health. “This investment will ensure we can effectively meet the needs of stroke patients. We will work with our many stakeholders to increase access to appropriate and timely rehabilitation for people who have experienced a stroke, increasing their level of independence and opportunity for community re-engagement, and overall quality of life.”
Ontario Health will also work closely with the province on a standardized provincial data collection approach to capture the total number of stroke patients who access outpatient rehabilitation services. This information will help shape the provincewide program and ensure that it addresses the needs of patients.
Over 25,000 Ontarians experience a stroke every year and more than 300,000 currently live with the consequences of stroke. Most stroke patients require intensive interprofessional stroke rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy. These therapies can significantly reduce a patient’s risk of further hospitalization and increase their level of independence and improve their outcomes, allowing them to achieve the best possible quality of life.