The Home First philosophy has been adopted by hospitals across Ontario and the Champlain region over the past several years. At The Ottawa Hospital, we have recently undergone a refresh to ensure that staff and physicians are aware of the benefit this philosophy provides to patients.
Home First is about providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place, for the right cost. The focus is to keep patients (particularly high-risk seniors) safe in the community for as long as possible, with community resources and supports. This means that through providing enhanced personal support upon discharge, seniors can remain at home and make decisions about their future in a more comfortable and familiar environment.
In addition to providing better care, closer to home, the Home First approach is a significant strategy that can help to reduce hospital occupancy, minimize the volume of Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients and support access to acute care. As a collaborative effort between The Ottawa Hospital and the Champlain LHIN, work is being done to ensure early engagement of the discharge team, which will allow for discussions regarding Long Term Care to occur in the community.
For primary care physicians, an understanding of this approach, as well as the messaging that your patients will experience while in hospital, is key to success and will assist in reassuring them. While patients are in hospital, the discharge planning team, comprised of a Social Worker and LHIN Care Coordinator, will be engaged early on to discuss plans for returning to the community. All efforts are placed by interdisciplinary team members to create safe and timely plans for discharge to a community setting. For patients who require Long Term Care, plans for this transition will be made from home through follow-up from a LHIN Care Coordinator.
A Home First approach avoids patients being identified too early for Long-Term Care and through timely discharge, the risk of deconditioning and exposure to hospital-acquired infections is reduced. Minimizing the need to make decisions in a time of crisis during a hospital admission offers the opportunity for patients to wait in a home environment for a preferred Long Term Care Home choice.
Carol Murphy, Manager, Subacute Transitions & Post Acute Flow, The Ottawa Hospital
613-798-5555 ext 17502