Innovative partnership bringing better care to long-term care residents in Wellington

A new, innovative partnership between two long-term care homes is improving access to primary care for Wellington residents thanks to nurse practitioner funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the leadership of the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN).

In September the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced funding to add 75 nurse practitioner positions over three years to Ontario long-term care homes.

“The funding was designed to bring primary care right to long-term care residents, improving their health and reducing the need for them to travel to receive care,” said Guelph MPP Liz Sandals.

When the WWLHIN reviewed the funding, it was clear that residents living in rural long-term care homes would benefit the most as they had a real need for additional primary care support. Unfortunately, these homes didn’t qualify for the funding because they had too few residents.

“We saw a real opportunity here to increase access to care for residents living in long-term care in Mount Forest and Harriston,” said Bruce Lauckner, CEO of the Waterloo Wellington LHIN.

“So, we suggested the two homes partner to share a full-time nurse practitioner. That way we could increase access to care while still ensuring the most efficient use of resources.”

As a result, nurse practitioner Julie Murtha was hired in May to provide primary care at Caressant in Harriston and Saugeen Valley in Mount Forest and to support the great staff teams at each home.

“We’re thrilled,” said Kim Leuszler, vice-president, quality improvement at Caressant Nursing and Retirement Homes.

“Julie is helping us to build even stronger relationships with hospitals and primary care and she is working closely with our staff as a key team member. We’re able to intervene earlier, provide tests, support and treatment on-site and reduce potential transfers to emergency departments.”

“The addition of the nurse practitioner role to our team at Saugeen has already introduced many benefits,” said Cate MacLean, administrator for Sharon Village Care Homes and Saugeen Valley Nursing Centre.

“Julie is able to spend dedicated time meeting with families and residents to offer enhanced primary medical care to our residents. She works closely with our attending physicians and staff to improve the quality of care for our residents. This role is vital in our rural communities and will be instrumental in meeting quality initiatives, such as reducing ED transfers.”

The shared position was also implemented at Caressant Care locations in Arthur and Fergus.

“These collaborations have benefitted more than just the residents and their families,” said Lauckner.

“The partnership has created a space for staff development and in which best-practices and current successes can be shared between two formerly separate organizations. As far as we know, it’s the first time a partnership like this has happened.”