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eShift program goes international

It started in the South West in 2009 as a pilot project with one nurse and two patients. Today, just five years later, the eShift model of care is spreading around the globe.

Already running across much of Southern Ontario - it was launched in Waterloo Wellington in March and will launch in Erie St Clair and Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant later this year - eShift was also launched in the US by Hospice of Michigan in December 2013. Soon, it will be up and running in France and England as well.

"We started with a small team on that first project," said Megan Nichols, Regional Quality Manager at the South West CCAC. "So it is completely surreal that from that tiny project we now have an international model of care."

The eShift program is an innovative nursing model of care that uses specialized technology to connect off-site nurses to specially trained Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in palliative patients' homes. The PSWs carry out activities on behalf of the nurse, which enables a single nurse to care for up to four patients, in four locations, at one time.

The model provides an easier way to get nursing resources into rural and remote areas, gives much needed relief to patient caregivers and family members and enables more patients than ever to die in the location of their choice. It was selected as an Accreditation Canada National Leading Practice, acknowledging it as a sustainable, creative and innovative service of national significance.

When word of eShift's success in the South West spread, many jurisdictions began to inquire. In early 2013, when Hospice of Michigan expressed interest in learning more about eShift, the South West CCAC met with them to discuss the program.

"They loved it," said Nichols. "They went back to Michigan to engage with their own regulatory bodies and colleges to develop an implementation plan, and launched last December."

This past April, the South West CCAC hosted a delegation of physicians and eHealth leads from St. Lukes Hospice in Sheffield England, and from The Health Network in Franche-Compte, France.

"They'd seen our presentations and read the information, but they wanted to see eShift in action," said Nichols. "They came and saw eShift provided overnight in a patient's home and then went on to Michigan to see it done in that environment."

The Health Network in France expects to roll out eShift in the fall of 2014 to their palliative patient population, while St. Lukes is considering how to implement eShift into their long-term care settings for end-of-life patients. Both European organizations, and Hospice of Michigan, have expressed an interest in partnering in a joint learning collaborative.

"That is huge," said Nichols. "We now have the opportunity to conduct joint research and to learn from each other's best practices to continue improving patient care. For something to have spread this quickly and this dramatically is hugely exciting."

To learn more about eShift, please watch our eShift video.