March 1st, 2019

// Ontario’s Specialized Geriatric Services See Opportunities in the People’s Health Care Act, 2019

Ontario's Specialized Geriatric Services See Opportunities in the People's Health Care Act, 2019

Breaking down barriers to better patient care is critical in the care of frail elderly 

TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2019 /CNW/ - Leaders from across Ontario's Regional Geriatric Programs (RGPs) and Specialized Geriatric Services, clinicians who provide health care to older adults living with frailty,  are very encouraged by the Ontario government's introduction of Bill 74, The People's Health Care Act, 2019.  The Act's intention is to improve access to healthcare services and patient experience by breaking down barriers to better patient care. 

Health professions working in the field of geriatrics see great opportunity for the proposed legislation to increase access to key services needed by older adults living with frailty. As the population of seniors continues to grow, system transformation will be necessary to ensure every Ontarian who needs it can access the complex continuing care necessary for them to live full and independent lives. Leaders in geriatric clinical services across Ontario are encouraged by the government's first step towards a model that breaks down the silos of the healthcare system and encourages providers of different kinds of care to work more closely together.

"The introduction of The People's Health Care Act is a very important step forward in the care of older adults living with frailty," said Dr. Kevin Young, Geriatrician and Co-Medical Director of the Provincial Geriatrics Leadership Office. Dr. Sophiya Benjamin, Dr. Young's Co-Medical Director, and a Geriatric Psychiatrist noted "we look forward to working with government to support transformation that better integrates services and will have a positive impact on patients and their families." 

Regional Geriatric Programs and Specialized Geriatric Service teams provided expert care to more than 180,000 Ontarians in 2017/18. These health professionals see every day the critical importance of linkages between care settings to effectively treat and support older adults who require a range of services to stay healthy and independent. "In 2016, people over age 65 accounted for 46% of all health sector expenditures and 51% of all hospital expenditures1. Consequently, the key to ending hallway medicine and better care for seniors is improved, integrated seniors' care both in hospital as well as in the community. Specialists in seniors' care (Geriatric Medicine, Geriatric Psychiatry, Care of the Elderly and interprofessional geriatrics teams) are the key to improving seniors' care and to helping seniors' remain at home and out of hospital" said Dr. Frank Molnar, Geriatrician and Chair of the Regional Geriatric Programs of Ontario. "Given these numbers the key to ending hallway medicine is, clearly, improved seniors' care" Molnar said.

"It is our hope that the government will continue to rely on the expertise of clinicians and leaders in the field of geriatrics to inform the design of care and treatment services for frail elderly people in this new model," Benjamin said. "Older people, who have complex health problems, need access to specialized geriatric care teams that are specifically trained to meet their needs" noted Young. 

About Regional Geriatric Programs and Specialized Geriatric Services in Ontario
Regional Geriatric Programs (RGPs) and Specialized Geriatric Services form a network of specialized front line health providers who assess and treat functional, medical, and psychosocial aspects of illness and disability in older adults who have multiple, complex and continuing care needs. These services work in collaboration with primary care physicians, community health professionals, and others, to wrap care around the individual, helping older adults living with frailty remain healthy and independent as long as possible. Supporting these services has the potential to decreasing hallway medicine by keeping our seniors in the community rather that in hospital or long term care. 

The Provincial Geriatrics Leadership Office provides leadership in the design of clinical models of care and health services for older people living with frailty.

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1 OHA, 2019

SOURCE Regional Geriatic Programs of Ontario

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