New paramedic program tailor-made for seniors still living at home

New paramedic program tailor-made for seniors still living at home
Michelle McMillan

CORNWALL, Ontario – A new program that aims to help older people stay in their homes longer is tailor-made for a recent Cornwall case that made headlines around the world.

The Community Paramedic Program is a pilot-project funded by the provincial government that has trained medics to spot danger signs like cluttered homes, snow piled up outdoors and repeated calls for service as examples of cases where intervention by community agencies is required.

Last week news broke that an elderly couple in Cornwall, which included a woman suffering from dementia, had to resort to selling a 54-year-old wedding ring to a local consignment shop in order to put food on the table.

Land ambulance manager Myles Cassidy suggested if a similar case was spotted via this new program, local agencies like Community Care Access Centre and the Canadian Mental Health Association could intervene early and help.

“That’s exactly the type of scenario we’re trying to address,” he said.

Eleven paramedics in SD and G have been trained for the program. Not only do they look for tell-tale signs at the scene of a call, but they also want to be proactive.

“We look for multiple calls for service,” said Cassidy. “We had one individual who called us 40 times (last year) for service.”

In such a case paramedics will look at the reasons for the calls, and agencies can be called in to help that person with issues at home.

“It’s different than (typical paramedic) training, which teaches you to get in and get them out (to a hospital) quickly,” said Cassidy. “We want them to take a look around and take your time.

“The client is really the focus.”

The program is funded solely by the Ministry of Health to the tune of $260,000. The program was to have a deadline this summer, but talks are underway to extend it well into the fall.

Beyond that, Cassidy said a case will have to be made to keep it, and the funding.

“If we can demonstrate we have reduced calls by multiple callers and reduced hospital visits…perhaps we’ll have a case to move forward,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to reduce hospital readmissions and transports to emergency departments.

“Through this new program, we are looking to intervene and provide support when needed before a crisis arrives,” said Michelle McMillan, Community Paramedicine Coordinator, in a recent media release from the city.

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