In October 2017, the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre (Perley Rideau), together with The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) and the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), launched a pilot project to assist elderly patients who no longer require hospital care but are not yet well enough to return home. SAFE (Sub-Acute care for the Frail Elderly) consists of 20 beds at the Perley Rideau near TOH.
Many patients admitted to the hospital for acute care end up staying after their conditions have stabilized because they are not well enough to return home. TOH has an average of 60–70 patients facing this situation at any given time. The SAFE program can address the need for care and beds because of their own on-site specialized staff and access to medical specialists.
The Perley Rideau’s SAFE unit addresses one of Demand a Plan’s main concerns for a national seniors care strategy — the strain on the health care system of elderly patients remaining in hospital in acute care longer than necessary because of the lack of any other accessible care.
TOH Chief of Staff Dr. Jeff Turnbull says of the Perley Rideau’s SAFE program: “SAFE represents an important innovation for the region’s health care system – one that I’m confident will improve patient outcomes … patients will get the medical care and rehabilitative therapies they need to recover at the Perley Rideau. The move will free up hospital beds for patients who need acute care.”
SAFE opened its doors and beds to patients in March of this year and has been helping patients heal more effectively. As Dr. Turnbull, former CMA president, pointed out when interviewed by the CBC about his role in getting SAFE up and running, the elderly and frail lose strength in hospital settings and tend to take longer to recover: “A day in hospital where you're not moving is like a week that it takes to recover and get that strength back … We miss that early and important window of getting people back home.”
Though not directly related, Demand a Plan currently has a recommendation addressing acute care, calling for a pan-Canadian study to assess the stress placed on the system by elderly patients whose condition is no longer acute but who have no other access to a bed in any other care facility. The Perley Rideau’s SAFE program presents a viable solution to the problem of acute-care overcrowding.
To read more about the Perley Rideau’s SAFE program, click here.