An Ounce of Prevention, A Pound of Care

A town in Ontario’s Renfrew County has hit on a way to cut in half the number of 911 calls and hospital visits from seniors. It’s pretty simple: From time to time, knock on their doors.

The lone nursing home in Deep River, Ontario, is full. That isn’t much help to aging residents here who need special care and medical advice – there are 32 of them. But through Deep River’s community paramedics program, these men and women are visited once a week by paramedics who proactively check them over, and answer their questions about nutrition or physiotherapy or diabetes control.

After five years, this program has had such success that some of these seniors aren’t even on the nursing home’s waiting list anymore. And did I mention the reduction in 911 calls and trips to the hospital? A little care and attention is making the difference between being able to live at home or not, and reducing medical emergencies. The county’s chief paramedic estimates that the program has already saved the health-care system over a million and a half dollars.

What’s nice – and maybe not accounted for in the program’s policy manual – is the strong bond that has developed between some of the paramedics and seniors. One of the workers, Chris Day, told a reporter that he gets such a kick out of visiting 82-year-old Wilt McCarthy, he often drops by on his own dime. That solid-gold friendship is worth even more than a million-and-a-half dollars, don’t you think?

Other communities have picked up on this program’s awesomeness, and are now planning to put something into place in their own jurisdictions.

2 responses to “An Ounce of Prevention, A Pound of Care

  1. I love this idea. I’ve often thought “it takes a village” when it comes to senior issues as well as to childcare.

  2. That’s a good way of looking at it, Peggy! I’m totally with you.

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