By Amanda Etty
In February 2020, Denise received a call from her mother Barbara’s long-term care (LTC) residence at six a.m. Barbara had fallen during the night and was sent by ambulance to the nearest hospital emergency department (ED). Aside from feeling incredible worry for her mother’s wellbeing, Denise also had to rearrange her day to get to the ED. For Barbara, the ED was disorienting, and while she recovered well from the fall, the experience was not something she nor Denise wanted to go through again.
More than a year later, Barbara had another fall. This time, because of LTC+, Barbara was able to receive diagnostics and care on the spot. This time when Denise received the call, the nurse let her know that although her mother fell, she received testing and bloodwork and she’s OK. Denise describes this situation as night and day. “The less my mom goes to the hospital, the better,” she says.
LTC+ is a joint initiative between LTC and acute care services that includes Women’s College Hospital (WCH), The Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (CQuIPS) and the General Medicine Inpatient Initiative (GEMINI). It’s a virtual care program that connects LTC nursing staff and physicians to 24/7 virtual consultations with medical specialists for advice and consultation. It also provides the LTC team with access to other services such as the availability of STAT labs and community paramedicine that will enable the LTC team to provide high-quality care to residents in the LTC home setting and avoid unnecessary transfers to hospitals.
Looking at the scenarios involving Barbara’s two falls side by side, it’s clear to see how LTC+ has positively impacted her wellbeing, as well as other LTC residents and their families. “If my mom can avoid leaving the building for reasons that are medical, that’d be great,” says Denise. “Let’s have her leave the building for things that are fun like going for a walk.”
Through engagement efforts with LTC homes, the LTC+ team is continually assessing how they can provide beneficial services for the best possible patient care. This fall, LTC+ is increasing its engagement efforts to better support LTC homes, as well as continuing to explore partnerships with other care providers to improve access to clinical services within LTC homes. The program is also working on developing and sharing educational materials for LTC homes to increase their capacity to provide quality care for residents in LTC.