KAWARTHA LAKES-When 77 year old Susan Smith (name changed to protect identity) fell and broke her leg she expected to be able to spend her six weeks in convalescence rehabilitation/ in her home community of Kawartha Lakes. That wish quickly changed when she realized that there were no beds in the City of Kawartha Lakes for convalescent care.
The Ross Memorial Hospital provides some short term beds for rehabilitation. The closest facility for convalescence is in Peterborough and it only has ten beds for the entire Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough City and County covering a population of more than 216,000 people. The beds are located within the Extendicare Nursing home.
The Ministry of Long Term Care is responsible for determining where the beds are allocated. “Convalescent Care beds are allocated in locations where services are most needed.” Mark Nesbitt, Communications for the MOLTC told Kawartha 411.
It’s called the Convalescent Care Program. The Ministry of Long Term Care (MOLTC) describes it as a short-stay program in long-term care homes for people over the age of 18 who need time to recover strength, endurance or functioning, and who are anticipated to return to their residences after admission to the program.
At Extendicare Peterborough the beds allocated for convalescence have no telephone or television in the rooms leaving seniors away from home and isolated. The average stay according to the Ministry is 45-60 days.
“My family couldn’t visit, I couldn’t phone them if I needed help.” Smith says. “I felt very alone.”
The Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine released a report providing advice on “how to build a modern, sustainable and integrated health care system and solve the problem of hallway medicine” in June 2019. One of the main objectives was to make health care services more readily available.
“Health care should be organized around each patient’s individual needs,” said Dr. Devlin. “Health providers must work collaboratively, and services should be more readily available and accessible within our communities. These are the changes that matter to Ontarians and this is what the health care system of the future should look like.”
Officials said the plan was developed in consultation with more than 1,500 health care providers, patients and caregivers, the Council’s report – A Healthy Ontario: Building a Sustainable Health Care System providing advice and making key recommendations focused on:
- Integration – Putting patients at the centre of all interactions within the health care system, making it easier to access and navigate the system while providing better digital access to personal health information.
- Innovation – Improving options for health care delivery with more virtual care options, modernizing the home care sector and providing a more flexible mix of health care and community supports.
- Efficiency and Alignment – Strengthening partnerships between health and social services and providing open and transparent data to improve health outcomes.
- Capacity – Addressing wait times for specialist and community care by maximizing existing assets and skills, making strategic investments in health care, designing financial incentives to promote better health outcomes for patients and populations and championing collaborative and interprofessional leadership.
The City of Kawartha Lakes has one of the highest number of senior citizens in Ontario. Many of them possibly needing convalescence at some time.
According to the City of Kawartha Lakes, the population of seniors over the age of 65 living in Kawartha Lakes is much higher than the provincial average meaning this area should have convalescence facilities.
In Ontario, there are 1.65 million people with disabilities. That means that one in seven people live with a disability. Predictions are that an aging population will raise that number to one in five by 2036, accounting for 40% of all income in the province. Many possibly needing convalescence.
There are currently 5 facilites offering a total of 67 convalescence beds within the Central East LHIN.
In part two of our investigation we will look at the care received in convalescence.