March 12, 2014 — Deron Hamel
When long-term care residents need medical attention that cannot be provided by in-house nursing staff, they often need to be transferred to hospital. But when homes have access to a nurse practitioner (NP) this transfer is usually avoided — and the more transfers can be avoided the better, says Nancy Lafete.
Lafete, a charge nurse at Frost Manor, says the province’s March 3 announcement that 75 in-house NPs will be funded over the next three years is “exciting” news for Ontario long-term care homes. More NPs, she says, will help enhance quality of life for residents.
She has seen the strong value NPs bring to residents through Frost Manor’s involvement with the Central East Local Health Integration Network’s (LHIN’s) Nurse Practitioners Supporting Teams Averting Transfers (NPSTAT) program.
For about four years, the Lindsay long-term care home’s residents requiring medical treatment normally provided in hospital have had access to NP Sarah Reynolds through the initiative.
The result, says Lafete, has been that residents get to remain in their home for treatment.
“It’s really nice to have that support,” Lafete says. “The residents . . . stay comfortable here in their own surroundings; (the program) is working very well.”
NPs visit long-term care homes to provide on-site care for medical issues that front-line staff members are unable to treat. Some of their work includes writing prescriptions for antibiotics, administering IV therapies, doing post-fall assessments and performing G-tube reinsertions.
Michelle Acorn, the NP lead at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa, says the province’s announcement is good news for long-term care homes across Ontario.
She adds that NPs are a good fit for the long-term care sector.
“They know how to look after all ages and stages of health; they know how to look after seniors as well,” she says.
NPs are also focused on preventative care. When residents experience urinary tract infections, falls or wounds, NP’s will examine the causes and suggest measures that can be taken to prevent future occurrences, Acorn notes.
As part of the funding, long-term care homes that successfully apply but are unable to recruit an NP will be able to access the province’s new Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner in Long-Term Care program.
Once launched in 2015-16, this initiative will support homes in providing registered nurses with the education and training to become NPs.
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