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Returning to the comfort of home

elderly woman in her homeIn the last five years, 95-year-old Olga Brauer has had both legs amputated below the knee, broken her hip in a fall and, most recently in late July, broken her femur.

Each of these injuries has required extensive rehab at London's Parkwood Hospital, and after enduring so many challenges, the London resident has decided moving into a long-term care home is the right decision for her.

Thanks to the South West CCAC's Home First philosophy, which was recently implemented at Parkwood Hospital, Brauer was discharged from Parkwood at the end of October and provided the proper supports to stay in the comfort of her own home until a spot in long- term care becomes available.

"I'm very happy to be home, and it's all thanks to the CCAC," she said. "I'm so grateful for what they've done for me."

The concept is simple. Identify patients in hospitals who are waiting to transfer to other care settings, and get them the care they need to be able to make that wait from the safety and familiarity of their own homes. The Home First approach to care has been enabling patients in the South West to do just that since it was first implemented at London Health Sciences Centre in September 2011.

Since that time, Home First has spread to other hospitals across the South West in St Thomas, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Tillsonburg and Owen Sound, with overwhelming results. In 2012, Home First enabled nearly 800 people a month to be supported at home, rather than in hospital. In addition, the number of people waiting in hospital for long- term care decreased from 137 in January 2012 to 87 by October of 2013, and Home First has saved the health system more than $10 million.

Since being implemented at Parkwood in September, Home First has enabled 15 patients to return home.

In Brauer's case, she was discharged home with regular occupational therapy and 12 hours a day of personal support care for the first month. Her care then changed as her health stabilized, requiring three hours of personal support each day, with continued occupational therapy, for as long as it takes her to make the transition to long-term care.

More than two thirds of all Home First patients are able to remain in their homes and out of long-term care. Others, like Olga, decide long-term care is still the best option. Home First gets patients out of hospital and allows them to make these types of decisions, and wait for spots in long-term care, from the familiar environments of their own homes.

"I'm happy to have decided on long-term care, it will take a lot of my worries away," said Brauer. "But I'm also very happy to be waiting from home. I'm terribly grateful to be here, I really am."

The Home First philosophy was also recently implemented at the Middlesex Hospital Alliance Strathroy site, and plans are in place to implement at the Huron Perth Health Alliance in December.

With the support of our partners, the South West CCAC will spread Home First to all hospitals in the South West by March 31, 2014.

Learn more about Home First.