Weaving care for healthy, happy seniors

May 1, 2018 - Michelle Brisbois at the Superior Family Health Team anticipates the implementation of Health TAPESTRY among Sault and area seniors.

SAULT ST. MARIE - Beginning in July, a new program known as Health TAPESTRY will aim to help a group of Sault and area seniors 70 and over get medical advice and treatment before they have that first, devastating fall, or before their medical conditions worsen.

“We want to get to them before they end up being in a critical situation and hopefully this will help, with volunteers going into their homes,” said Michelle Brisbois, Superior Family Health Team executive director, speaking to SooToday.

Older adults who have previously participated in the program spent less time sitting, walked more, and tended to fall less, stated a Superior Family Health Team news release.

“The patients homes will be assessed and the patients can really talk about what they want their health goals to be…if we can get these things under control before they became critical, it’s a much better outcome for the patient, and it’s important to have the patients involved in their own care plan,” Brisbois said.

Superior Family Health Team, located at 765 Queen St. E. (the old PUC building) was approached by Hamilton’s McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences (which developed Health TAPESTRY) to implement the program in the Sault and area, with the Sault Ste. Marie and District Red Cross being the organization of choice to provide Health TAPESTRY volunteers.

“They (the Red Cross) are in charge of training all the volunteers (who will be screened) and we will work collaboratively with them, the volunteers will go into our patients homes and gather their information,” Brisbois said.

Clients must be enrolled as patients with Superior Family Health Team, Brisbois said.

Patient information will be sent by the volunteers to the client’s primary health care team using secure technology. The information will help the client’s professional health care team be informed as to how they can help that person stay healthy longer.

The health care team may also connect with community organizations to help the person access supports and resources in the community.

Volunteers could identify, for example, a need for physiotherapy for a patient, Brisbois said.

“(Through Health TAPESTRY) we want the patient to be able to have access to a social worker, a dietician, a pharmacist, an all-encompassing one stop shop,” Brisbois said.

“We have a very high geriatric population so we want to make sure (seniors health needs are seen to).”

“The next part of the process is to get our volunteers up and running, so we’re hoping to have the program implemented by July once we get our volunteers trained. The Red Cross has that all set up. We’ll have patients already identified, and we can just proceed.”

Those interested in being screened, trained volunteers for the Health TAPESTRY program may reach out to the Sault Ste. Marie and District Red Cross any time beginning now, Brisbois said, by contacting Jaclyn McKenna at 705 759-4547 or by email at HTAP_SSM@redcross.ca

More information on Health TAPESTRY can be found on the program’s website

Superior Family Health Team is one of six primary care centres across Ontario that will be implementing Health TAPESTRY through Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funding.

“Basically we want to reach these patients before they get into a crisis, where they need to be involved in Health Link,” Brisbois said.

Health Link is a coalition of partners which treats Ontarians with more complex needs.

In Sault Ste. Marie, Health Link partners include the Group Health Centre, ARCH, Sault Area Hospital, the Community Care Access Centre, community mental health and addictions, Algoma Public Health, the City of Sault Ste. Marie, the Innovation Centre, Long Term Care and other primary care groups.

Source: Soo Today, Darren Taylor.