More patients have chance to go Home Again

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 12:49pm

By Candice Hayman

Capital Health is expanding its Home Again program to give more hospital patients the opportunity to return home for more appropriate care.  

Home Again is a Continuing Care program enabling some hospital patients who no longer require hospital-level care to return home safely, while at the same time making hospital beds available to those who need them most.  This fall, the program will expand to include 15 patients at a time, up from 10.

Since completing the Home Again program following a hospital stay, Pat Pattison’s health has stabilized. His wife has since reduced the amount of home care they receive. 

“The program has helped me a great deal,” said Jean Pattison, on her husband’s return from hospital. “At home, he was the person I knew again.” 

Home Again provides patients 60 days of enhanced home-care support such as assistance with bathing and meal preparation, nursing, occupational therapy and more. It gives them time at home to recover and plan with their family regarding their future care, which may include a move to a long-term care home.

On any given day, about 150 patients in Capital Health hospitals are waiting for a long-term care bed. Sometimes they wait months, putting them at risk of hospital acquired illness and deterioration in physical, mental and social functioning. Many of these patients are frail and elderly, and have decided to move to a nursing home because they’re not confident they can live as well at home.

But the results of Home Again are encouraging. Of those people who have completed the 60-day program, 76 per cent have remained at home and reduced the amount of home care they needed, rather than moving to a nursing home.

Home Again is guided by the “home first” philosophy of care, said Jill Robbins, director of Continuing Care at Capital Health.

“It focuses on giving patients the chance to go home first, before going anywhere else,” she said. “We believe that moving to a long-term care home should be considered only as a last resort, after all other options have been explored.”

Annette Samson, social worker in acute neurology at the Halifax Infirmary site of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, said the program has also helped stroke survivors make the transition back home.

“While all continue to wait for long-term care, the great news is that some have decided to reduce their amount of home care, realizing they can get along in the community and continue to maintain a good level of independence.”

By reducing the number of patient waiting in hospital for other levels care, Home Again is a critical part of solutions to complex problems like emergency department overcrowding and hospital and nursing home bed availability.

Pat Pattison (with wife Jean) returned home from hospital with the support of Home Again.