Deepening Relationships with Hospitals to reduce ED transfers

illage of Aspen Lake shares successes at Innovation Summit

By Kristian Partington

Anytime a person, group or organization decides they’re going to make improvements in their life, it’s important they look at successes and challenges to determine if the path they’ve chosen is taking them in the right direction.

It’s also important to share that information with others in order to help them in their journey towards improvement. The Schlegel Villages/RIA Innovation Summits held the past two years are perfect examples of this concept in action. During the inaugural event last summer, for example, representatives of the village of Erin Meadows in Mississauga spoke about an initiative they’d undertaken to reduce the number of avoidable resident transfers from the village to the hospital emergency department (ED).

The team at The Village of Aspen Lake in Windsor took notice and at this year’s summit, general manager Dana Houle shared the story of their successes and challenges. Like so much in the long-term care and retirement sector, strong relationships with community partners have made all the difference, she explained.

“One of the things we talk about when we look at reducing those emergency department transfers is really building relationships with hospitals,” Dana explained, “and really acknowledging what long-term care is and really having the hospitals understand some of the constraints that long-term care can be under.”

The team has worked closely with a nurse practitioner (NP) who is in the village at least three times a week. She can start an intravenous antibiotic for a resident suffering from an infection, for example, which in many cases can eliminate the need for a hospital visit and yet, the team at the village can’t make that decision on its own. The NP also acts as a liaison between the village and the hospital.

Another contributing factor to ongoing improvements is the collective strength they’ve found in combining forces with fellow long-term care homes in the area to help educate their peers at the hospital.

“As long-term care homes, we’re getting together and having those conversations,” Dana said. “We really recognize that there are a lot of struggles that the long-term care homes are having when transferring to and from hospital so we set up a sub-committee to really go in and work with hospitals and talk about some of the concerns that long-term care homes are having.”  They also heard about challenges the hospital faces and through the conversation, greater understanding on both sides is reached. 

“We want to make sure that we’re supportive of everyone’s needs,” Dana explained. In doing so, they continue to make progress and while there’s always more that can be done, the communication tools they now have in place are helping to reduce avoidable ED transfers, and everyone’s needs are better served by this new reality.