Susan Weston can’t imagine life without HAL

Community-based support services helping local resident live the life she wants to live

Susan Weston says the Central East Local Health Integration Network’s (Central East LHIN’s) Home at Last (HAL) program has enhanced her quality of life by providing the supports she needs to live independently.

Weston, who has mobility challenges, is living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and frequently has to go to the hospital for care.

Returning home can be a challenge but by accessing services provided by personal support workers (PSWs) through Community Care Durham’s HAL program, the 67-year-old says she has been able to live independently in a Whitby retirement home for the past four years.

If Weston needs help after being discharged from hospital with grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions or even meal preparation and housekeeping chores, someone from HAL is there to provide assistance. Weston says she lives her life the way she wants and whenever there’s a gap in the form of a task she cannot perform when she gets home, someone from HAL is there to provide seamless service.

On top of the excellent support she receives through the HAL program, Weston says the PSWs follow up with phone calls to make sure she’s well.

“They have made a huge difference in my life,” Weston says of the HAL support workers. “They are superb; nothing but absolute perfection. . . . These people are absolutely on the ball. I just don’t know what I would do without them.”

In fact, when she’s asked what her quality of life would be like without the HAL program, Weston says she’s lost for words — it’s simply something she cannot imagine, she says.

Community Care Durham is one of the ten community-based support services agencies to offer the HAL program within the Central East LHIN. HAL also operates out of Scarborough, Peterborough, Northumberland, Haliburton and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

The Central East region has a rapidly growing senior population, which is placing increasingly significant demands on hospitals, primary care and home care. By supporting aging adults and adults with special needs to settle in at home after a hospital stay, the Central East LHIN is reducing the strain on the acute-care system.

The program is run with partnerships between hospitals, community support services and the local Community Care Access Centre.

Many people with chronic conditions like Weston have frequent hospital admissions. When they are ready to go home, however, hospitals will not discharge them until they are satisfied that someone will be available to tend to the patient’s needs once they return home.

This is an area where HAL is stepping in to make a difference, says Kim Lepine, director of COPE Mental Health and Specialized Geriatrics for Community Care Durham, who notes that HAL assists many people with chronic conditions.

“Without services like Home at Last for a person who has a number of chronic conditions, it would be very difficult (for them) to get home,” Lepine says.

The Central East LHIN is currently implementing its third Integrated Health Service Plan (IHSP), setting out a shared goal for the local health care system to help Central East LHIN residents spend more time in their homes and their communities.

Improving health care for seniors is a top priority of the Central East LHIN. Together with the Home At Last teams and local Community Support Services agencies in Scarborough, Durham and the North East Clusters, the LHIN is actively working on the “Community First - Seniors Aim.”

To learn more about the Home At Last program please click on “Get Connected With Care – Home At Last.” 

For more information on how the Central East LHIN is building a system of care for frail seniors, please visit the Central East LHIN website www.centraleastlhin.on.ca - and click on Regional Specialized Geriatric Services. 

Submitted by Deron Hamel, Axiom News.  To contact Deron, please email deron@axiomnews.ca.