FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has launched a new initiative aimed at helping seniors leave the hospital sooner, or avoid hospitalization altogether, by offering intensive rehabilitation and reablement services in the community or at home.

“Our government is committed to helping seniors remain at home and in their communities as long as possible,” said Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers. “The goal of the pilot project is to provide seniors with the necessary support to ensure they are able to return home quickly following an injury or hospitalization and enabling them to live as independently as possible.”

The pilot project is part of a $10.3 million investment being made this year by the Department of Social Development in the Home First Strategy. The three-year strategy outlines a series of innovative approaches and initiatives to support seniors to live in their own homes and continue to be part of their communities.

The pilot project is aimed at seniors who:

  • could be medically discharged from the hospital but cannot go home without intensive rehabilitation and support services; or
  • are in the community and had an incident or require intervention to prevent hospitalization or a permanent residential placement.

The target group for this project will be seniors with a diagnosis of issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure or mini-strokes.

As part of the pilot project, the province’s Extra Mural Program will deliver up to 21 days of intensive rehabilitation therapy at either a special care home or in the senior’s own home to maximize the potential for recovery.

Once they have recovered, patients may receive between three to six weeks of reablement services from a home support worker. The worker would help them adapt to living independently through relearning different abilities, such as washing and dressing.

Additional health-care professionals will be hired, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and rehabilitation assistants, as well as home support workers.

“A senior’s ability to care for themselves can deteriorate rapidly when hospitalized for too long,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “Having access to rehabilitation and reablement services will help seniors with their daily living activities in preparation to return home and decrease the dependency on more intrusive and costly care.”

To date, 210 home support and special care home workers have been trained to ensure co-ordination among the health-care teams and support workers.

The project is a collaborative effort among home support workers, special care homes, and the Extra Mural Program in partnership with the departments of Social Development and Health.