Restorative Care Program should get patients home sooner

By CECILIA NASMITH, NORTHUMBERLAND TODAY

COBOURG -- Just because a hospital patient is getting well does not mean he or she is ready to return home.

Focusing on health, not illness, the new Restorative Care Program was launched in February at Northumberland Hills Hospital.

At the hospital's April board meeting, quality and safety committee representative Kay Jackson said that 16 acute-care ALC beds had been closed in order that 16 restorative-care beds could be opened.

This is part of the province's Home First initiative, which strives for well-planned-out discharges that don't result in readmissions.

As project manager Wendy Kolodziejczak explained in a presentation at the March board meeting, patients who have required an extended stay become debilitated. In order that their options do not become too limited, restorative care fosters motivation, maximizes functional ability to encourage independence, and connects patients and their family members to community services that can ease the transition to home.

Such features as the electronic referral process, electronic data base and formalized discharge planning process are incorporated for better out-comes.

Another innovation is the teamwork of all disciplines involved, from the doctors and nurses to the physiotherapy and recreational-therapy staff.

"The program is based on best practices to encourage a maximum scope of practice by team members, integrated with the CCAC," Jackson said.

The Community Care Access Centre takes on the role of system navigator, asking what needs to be in place for a patient to get home and remain there safely

"The objective that 50% of the clients in that program be discharged home has been set, and the committee will monitor this objective," Jackson said.

Patients eligible for discharge who refuse placement offers can be charged an unregulated amount at the discretion of the hospital, she reported.

This situation has come up in Windsor and Cambridge, of elderly patients being discharged to nursing homes refusing the placement -- then being charged hundreds of dollars a day for their hospital stays thereafter.

"This is not new, but it is in accordance with the Ontario Health Act," Jackson said, though the standard is to give patients five options instead of trying to force them to accept the first placement with a vacant bed.

Director of communications Jennifer Gillard said that, thanks to good discharge planning, it's not a situation that has arisen here.

This story ran in Northumberland Today on April 13th and is reposted with their permission.