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Health care gets a helping hand

Andrew Philips

By Andrew Philips, Special to Postmedia Network

ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES
Helping Hands personal support worker Dianah Fielder is pictured in the organization's new Brechin facility for those leaving hospital who require additional care.

ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES Helping Hands personal support worker Dianah Fielder is pictured in the organization's new Brechin facility for those leaving hospital who require additional care.

Ramara Township residents have a new resource should they require additional care after leaving hospital.

Orillia-based Helping Hands opened a six-bed transitional program in Brechin this week designed to lessen strain on the health-care system by lowering the need for longer hospital stays.

Helping Hands CEO Rob Soczka said the beds help take pressure off the health-care system by freeing up hospital beds.

"This alleviates the pressure on local hospitals," he said. "Instead of tying up beds in the hospital, we're able to divert those clients. We can take them and absorb them into (the transitional home's) beds."

Delivered in collaboration with Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital (OSMH) and the

North Simcoe Muskoka Hospice Palliative Care Network, the program is being funded by the the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and uses a new facility designed, built and provided by Jack Steenhof and Fayne Bullen.

"We've never really had a satellite base in that neck of the woods," Soczka said, adding Helping Hands already operates six other beds in its catchment area, with two beds at a Coldwater seniors' facility and four divided between two Orillia seniors' homes (Hillcrest Lodge and Barrie Road).

The beds and accompanying facilities are designed to provide an interim, safe and inviting environment for clients who are recovering or transitioning to more permanent living arrangements.

Soczka said the model has proven effective in the other locations since clients requiring acute care receive around-the-clock monitoring by qualified personal support workers (PSW).

"It's worked very well over the years. If clients have the ability to be served by PSWs, it frees up (hospital) beds," he said, noting his organization had been looking at options to expand the service in the region.

To that end, Helping Hands approached the LHIN in the fall about the project. The proposal was accepted last month, with the LHIN providing $326,000 in annual funding -- the vast majority going to direct client-care salaries.

"We're already at six employees who are all PSWs," he said. "We received our first client from OSMH Thursday."

Soczka said the Brechin facility offers a layout that's in tune with the Helping Hands model since it features a communal design with a common kitchen and living area with separate bedrooms.

"The facility is beautiful. It's ideal," he said. "It provides an inviting environment."

Soczka said the number of residents staying at the Brechin site will vary since it is directly related to how long a person resides there.

"It could be for a couple of days, up to six months," he said, noting the building will be running at its full, six-bed capacity by next month.

In addition, clients at the facility who are eligible for therapy and nursing services through the North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre will receive their care on site.

Helping Hands also offers transportation services, housekeeping and assistance with meals, along with personal care or relief for a caregiver and friendly visiting programs.

andrewphilips@live.ca 



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