Partnership reducing home-to-hospital transfers
NP lauds success of Ottawa-area nurse practitioner program
A partnership between six Ottawa-area long-term care homes and The Ottawa Hospital is resulting in a reduction of long-term care home-to-hospital transfers, says nurse practitioner (NP) Tara Leach.
The nurse-led outreach hospital divergence program, which receives funding through the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), began in autumn 2007 with three long-term care homes and has since doubled.
There are many benefits of not sending long-term care residents to hospital. For one, residents often have dementia, and a hospital visit can cause a confusing experience, Leach notes.
Also, the risk of acquiring an infection is increased in hospital, as are risk factors for delirium and falling, she adds.
“As nurse practitioners we can go in, see a resident, offer diagnosis, treat them in-house and ultimately avert a hospital transport,” Leach tells the Morning Report.
“A lot of the things that are causing people to go to hospital (from long-term care) are things that can be treated in homes, but for lack of availability of resources, they’re often sending people to hospital for treatment.”
Common conditions being treated by nurse practitioners at the homes include pneumonia, urinary-tract infections and dehydration.
Nurse practitioners can also perform bedside blood work, such as monitoring for electrolyte imbalances, which are common in the older population.
Asked what she thinks could be done to enhance the program, Leach says it would be ideal to have a nurse practitioner available to every long-term care home. The challenge in making this happen is the fact there are so many homes in the LHIN’s catchment area, she says.
“I think that if you had a nurse practitioner in every long-term care facility, you would more than double their hospital aversion rates and I think that you would have better communication,” says Leach.
Carlingview Manor, which is owned by a Revera Inc., is one of the original three long-term care homes involved with the program. Executive director Cathy Drouin says the program’s success at averting hospital transfers has been attractive to family members looking for a long-term care home for their loved ones.
“It is a great thing to have on board when you’re telling your family members that not only do we have Monday to Friday doctor coverage, we have this full-time (nurse practitioner) as well,” she says.
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