Ontario Connecting Long-Term Care Residents to More In-Home Diagnostic Services
Faster and more convenient access to diagnostics helps reduce avoidable hospital visits
October 17, 2023
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TORONTO — The Ontario government is connecting long-term care residents to the right care in the right place by investing nearly $10 million to help long-term care homes offer residents more diagnostic services onsite, instead of travelling to a hospital. This work is part of Ontario’s Your Health Plan for Connected and Convenient Care to improve residents’ quality of life and reduce avoidable emergency department visits and hospital stays.
“By connecting residents to faster and more convenient diagnostic services, we are helping connect residents to the care they need, when and where they need it,” said Stan Cho, Minister of Long-Term Care. “This will help to reduce avoidable emergency department visits and hospital stays, increase the services available at long-term care homes, and improve residents’ quality of life.”
Starting today, Ontario is launching the new Equipment and Training Fund to help long-term care homes purchase more diagnostic equipment and train staff so that they can better manage and treat residents’ conditions that most often lead to preventable hospital visits, such as urinary tract infections, falls, pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
Ontario is also increasing residents’ access to routine and urgent laboratory services such as blood work in the comfort of their homes by increasing reimbursements to long-term care homes that connect residents to faster, more convenient access to care through mobile community lab services.
Later this fall, Ontario will significantly expand the Nurse-Led Outreach Teams program into additional long-term care homes in underserved areas of the province. This innovative model of care will conveniently connect more residents to in-person and virtual consultations with a specialized team of nurse practitioners and registered nurses. These teams will also work together with emergency departments and long-term care homes to coordinate timely and rapid diagnostic services for residents.
These new initiatives build on Ontario’s two pilot projects with Humber River Hospital in Toronto and Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie that are increasing residents’ access to more diagnostic imaging services, such as x-rays and ultrasounds. These projects are helping residents avoid emergency department visits by directly coordinating their appointments for diagnostic imaging services in the hospital.
The government is fixing long-term care to ensure Ontario’s seniors get the quality of care and quality of life they need and deserve, both now and in the future. The plan is built on four pillars: staffing and care; quality and enforcement; building modern, safe and comfortable homes; and connecting seniors with faster, more convenient access to the services they need.
- The Ontario government is making significant investments in specialized services and supports for long-term care residents with complex needs like bariatric, behavioural and dialysis, so they can get the care they need while avoiding unnecessary hospitalization.
- Ontario’s over $120 million investment in specialized services and supports in 2022-23 included up to $20 million for the Ontario Health Local Priorities Fund, $5.91 million for four new Behavioural Specialized Units in long-term care homes, an additional $5 million for Behavioural Supports Ontario, $2.6 million for Baycrest’s Virtual Behaviour Medicine program, and $4.5 million to build dedicated spaces for health care at a new seniors’ housing complex in Kenora.
- The Ontario government is providing up to $1.25 billion this year to long-term care homes to hire and retain thousands more long-term care staff. This is part of the government’s historic four-year, $4.9 billion commitment to increase the provincewide average direct care time provided by registered nurses, registered practical nurses and personal support workers to four hours per resident, per day, by March 31, 2025.
- As part of its plan to fix long-term care and address sector waitlists, the government is building more than 30,000 net new long-term care beds in Ontario by 2028 and upgrading more than 28,000 older beds to modern design standards. This will help increase access to long-term care, reduce waitlists, and ease hospital capacity pressures. It will also improve working conditions for staff in long-term care homes and provide safe, more comfortable homes for residents.
“We know that transfers to and from hospital can be very difficult for residents and families. As such, we wholeheartedly welcome today’s news of funding to support homes with equipment and training to provide more onsite specialized services. Expanding the Nurse-Led Outreach Teams program to more homes is a critical added element to further benefit seniors and the health care system. Both these initiatives are very much in line with our vision for the future of long-term care in Ontario.”
– Lisa Levin
Chief Executive Officer, AdvantAge Ontario
“The Ontario Long Term Care Association and its member homes thank the Ontario Government for these investments that will enable more residents across Ontario to receive faster and more convenient diagnostic services in their long-term care home, and improved quality of care and services.”
– Donna Duncan
Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Long Term Care Association
“We welcome this new initiative to bring diagnostic services to long-term care residents in their home. This will address the increasing care needs of long-term care residents and avoid hospital visits.”
– Maria Elias
Chief Executive Officer, Belmont House
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