This Holiday, Be Prepared
Over the holidays, thousands of people will spend hours in the hospital emergency department to be treated for injuries or illnesses that don't require emergency care.
You don't have to be one of them.
Talk to your family doctor: learn his/her holiday schedule and whether anyone else is available to provide health care services to you.
Know your health care options: learn what health care services are available in your area at www.feelbetterfaster.ca
Take steps to stay healthy: simple things like getting your flu shot or refilling your prescriptions before the holidays can help you avoid an unexpected trip to the emergency department.
To learn more about how you can prepare for the holidays, visit www.FeelBetterFaster.ca
Here are some great questions and answers to help you plan to stay healthy over the winter holidays.
Question: Does the Mississauga Halton CCAC close down during the December holidays?
Answer: No, we don't close down. In fact we have more people available to answer your questions. We are open from 8:30am to 8:30pm every day, seven days a week to answer your call. We have highly trained and experienced care coordinators in every hospital as well as emergency departments.
What we often see is that adult children or relatives come to visit Mom and may be quite worried about how different she looks from when they visited in summer.
We had a situation last year where Linda McPherson travelled from Edmonton to spend Christmas with her Dad. She had not seen her father in almost a year, due to the great distance. He sounded fine on the phone when she called; but she was pretty shocked at how he looked. When he started coughing non-stop after dinner, instead of taking her father to the emergency department of the local hospital, she took him to the hospital's Urgent Care Centre. That centre is fully staffed with doctors and nurses and equipment.
The health professionals in the Urgent Care Centre examined her dad and diagnosed him. There was no emergency. The doctor prescribed medication for dad and they were home in time to take him to church, which is what he did every year. She and her Dad spent only a fraction of the time away from home, compared to the busy hospital emergency department. More fun for dad and more enjoyable for Linda and the rest of her family.
And thanks to the list of so many services in our neighbourhoods, Linda can consider the options of calling her dad's family doctor get advice or even his pharmacist, if something else happens this holiday.
Question: Do I need a referral to call the Mississauga Halton CCAC?
Answer: No, anyone call us at 310-2222 no area code needed. A patient, a resident, a spouse, daughter, son, neighbour can call us; no doctor referral is needed. Linda can call the Mississauga Halton CCAC on behalf of her dad. He does not have to go to the hospital or visit his doctor first.)
Question: Remind us of what the holiday surge strategy is, and tell us why it's important for people to know their health care options?
Answer: Every year, over the winter holidays, we see a marked increase in the number of patients who go to hospital emergency departments. Sadly, some of those people do not need emergency care.
This often happens because people don't know what services are available in their neighbourhoods where they could receive care – often faster - instead of going to a hospital emergency.
The holiday surge strategy brings together a group of health care partners – hospitals, family doctors, our Mississauga Halton Community Care Access Centre, community services agencies and mental health services to help the people in our community. Together we are helping people know about their health care choices available during the winter holidays. We are helping people prepare for the holidays so they can spend all of their time with loved ones instead of spending precious time in a hospital emergency department. Also, very important, we are helping people know a few very great tips to stay healthy and avoid spending their holidays in bed, or worse, in hospital.
We want everyone to enjoy the holidays and so the goal of our Holiday Surge strategy is to help people stay healthy at home and out of hospital, with great local choices in their neighbourhoods.
Question: What services does the Mississauga Halton CCAC offer over the holiday season?
Answer: We have all of the services we provide every day of the year. We don't close. In fact, we make sure we have more staff available to answer any health issue.
We specialize in eight services following a detailed assessment of each person's health care needs:
- One: We help patients leave hospital for home and recover safely
- Two: We help patients leave hospital earlier to recover at home, helping patients take control of their own recovery
- Three: We help patients with high health care needs remain at home safely
- Four: We help residents find a family doctor
- Five: We help children who are medically fragile live at home safely; we help children succeed in school and we help students in high schools survive, thrive and cope with mental health and addiction challenges
- Six: We help families with all aspects of applying to moving to long-term care home if home is no longer an option
- Seven: We help patients die at home, with dignity if that is their wish
- And eight: We provide information and referral to services like adult day programs and short-term out of home respite to help caregivers. And if our services are not the right option for residents, we help residents connect with great community services agencies in their neighbourhoods.
Question: What can members of our community who do not have a family physician do for holiday care?
Answer: Let's look at the example I just gave of Linda and her father. If her dad does not have a family doctor, one of the first things Linda can do is call the Mississauga Halton CCAC and ask for a Health Care Connector. They are nurses who are available throughout the year and during the holidays who will match a resident with a family doctor. This is great for dad's care, not just during the holidays, but for his health throughout the year.
If Linda notices there is a big decline in her father's health, she can call the Mississauga Halton CCAC at 310-2222 – no area code needed – and speak with one of our trained staff. They will conduct a quick assessment – a series of simple, but important questions to help determine if Linda's Dad is at risk and in need of health care at home services that we provide. If so, we will send out one of our professional care coordinators to conduct a detailed health assessment and determine the best services to keep Linda's dad safe at home. And if that after that first phone call, dad's need is urgent, one of our care coordinators will visit Linda and her dad in her home in a matter of days to conduct a detailed assessment (no physical examination, just a series of questions, to help determine his health care needs. Even if it is not urgent, Linda can call us – no doctor referral is needed.
And if our services are not suitable, we can help connect Linda and her dad with great community services available in his neighbourhood.
Question: Where should people go to get information about available health care over the holidays?
Answer: The first place to go is to your family doctor, or family health team. Ask about the holiday hours and what services and people are available after regular working hours.
If you don't have a family doctor, call the Mississauga Halton CCAC at 310-2222 – no area code required – and ask for a health care connector who will match you with a family doctor in your neighbourhood.
Many family doctors arrange coverage with another doctor to make sure their patients can receive care if they need it. Check to see whether your doctor made arrangement like this.
Doctors who are part of family care teams will often have after-hours phone-in service to help you and those doctors often have access to your health record to help you faster.
For information about the many services available during the holidays, visit www.feelbetterfaster.ca for great information that is updated regularly. This website has great information on what health care resources are available in the Mississauga-Halton region. It also has a special holiday section that lists what services are available in each region over the holidays. Here are a few examples: information for CCAC and Mental Health Services, and a list of what clinics are in your area and what their holiday hours are.
If you think you need health care at home services, just call the Mississauga Halton CCAC at 310-2222, no area code required.
Question: What tips can you give seniors to help them prepare for the holidays?
Answer: There are a few really easy and important things that people, not just seniors, can do to prepare for the holidays – so they can be as healthy as possible and enjoy being with family and friends and not in a hospital or in bed under the covers!
- Wash your hands! It is such a powerful prevention against getting sick during the holidays. It's really simple – just soap and water or hand washing gel. It's really simple and really effective.
- Get your flu shot. The cities of Toronto, Peel Region and Mississauga all have free flu shots and so many offices. It is convenient. You can get times and locations by visiting www.feelbetterfaster.ca
- If you know you are ill, don't go out. You will only feel worse, not better.
- Have a list of medications so that your loved ones – like Linda – know what you are taking if anything happens. And one of the best things you can do is go to your doctor BEFORE the holiday season and renew your prescriptions. And then take those prescriptions and get them filled right away.
- When you are visiting your family doctor, find out if the office is open during the holidays. Is your doctor available for emergencies? Is there another doctor you can call if you need during the holidays?
And for people of all ages, spending time with loved ones over the holidays is great; but remember don't exhaust yourself. Get sleep and try to eat healthy foods between the yummy treats.
Question: What health care options are available over the holiday season?
Answer: The MH LHIN has a list of those options to share and they are updating every day. Just visit www.feelbetterfaster.ca.