Province’s move will enhance quality care for residents while reducing strain on hospitals
Monday, March 24, 2014 — Deron Hamel
TORONTO – The province’s decision to fund 75 new, in-house nurse practitioners (NPs) in Ontario’s 630 long-term care homes will benefit both the senior-care and hospital sectors, say stakeholders.
The Ontario government announced March 3 it will be funding the NPs over the next three years to add to the staffing mix in the province’s long-term care sector. The first 15 NPs will be funded this year.
By having on-site NPs, more long-term-care home residents will be able to have their care needs met in their home, avoiding hospital transfers which can have a detrimental impact on their quality of life, says Michelle Acorn, NP lead at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa.
Acorn says NPs are well-suited to work in long-term care homes. NPs, as part of their training, learn about disease processes, disease prevention, how medications work and how to adjust to patients’ unique situations, such as heart, kidney and liver disease, she explains.
Treating people in homes also mitigates the risk of residents getting hospital-acquired infections, Acorn told the OMNIway, during a recent Ontario Hospital Association conference in Toronto.
“(NPs) are experienced registered nurses with additional education and they are a solution for many things,” Acorn says. “They know how to look after all ages and stages of health; they know how to look after seniors as well.”
Since 2010, NPs have been regularly visiting OMNI Health Care homes in the Central East Local Health Integration Network’s (LHIN’s) catchment area as part of the LHIN’s Nurse Practitioners Supporting Teams Averting Transfers (NPSTAT) program.
These homes include Pleasant Meadow Manor, Frost Manor, Springdale Country Manor, Streamway Villa and Burnbrae Gardens.
Pleasant Meadow Manor clinical care/RAI co-ordinator Susan Towns says many of the Norwood long-term care home’s residents have been able to avoid hospital transfers, thanks to having access to an NP.
Like Acorn, Towns says the province’s decision to fund NPs in long-term care homes spells good news for both the long-term care and acute-care sectors.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful that they’re going to increase the number of nurse practitioners available to (long-term care homes),” she says. “(Nurse practitioners) have been an absolute asset to our home.”
Burnbrae Gardens administrator April Faux adds: “The main thing is (that more) residents will not have to go to hospital; they can stay in their own home for simple procedures.”
As part of the funding, long-term care homes that successfully apply for NP funding but are unable to recruit one 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 nurse practitioners.
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