In demographic terms, the Central West LHIN (from Melancthon and Mulmer townships in the north to Caledon, Brampton and north Etobicoke in the south) is home to the highest proportion of visible minorities in Ontario, at almost 50%. It currently has one of the youngest populations (with a median age of 35 years). However, over the next decade the number of seniors in the region will increase by 50,000 (68%), so that by 2019 the Central West LHIN is expected to have the highest percentage of seniors in all 14 LHINs.
According to Chair Joe McReynolds, one of Central West LHIN’s greatest challenges is dealing with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma and hypertension. As in other regions, about 80% of this LHIN’s 45 and older population are living with a chronic disease, and 70% of them have more than one chronic condition. In Central West LHIN this percentage is expected to rise even higher because of increasing childhood obesity and the rapidly aging population.
Central West LHIN’s challenge is to help people manage their chronic diseases so they don’t need to be admitted to hospital, the most expensive part of the health care system. An example of a cost-effective program with a big impact in this LHIN is diabetes education, which can prevent people from getting into trouble with their disease and needing the hospital. There are currently a dozen diabetes education teams supporting people across the Central West LHIN.
As part of the province’s Aging at Home Strategy, the Central West LHIN received funding for programs and services aimed at keeping the region’s seniors healthy and well supported in the community. The new funding was intended to increase the overall supply (mix and quantity) of services that support seniors to stay healthy and live safely at home with independence and dignity, as well as to institute new preventive and wellness services and partnerships with non-traditional providers.
The Aging at Home program allows LHINs to provide health care services that are tailor-made to meet local seniors’ needs. In 2010, the program was expanded to include 15 additional community-based services, such as:
- Home First – Supports patients currently waiting in hospital for convalescent services or long-term care to go home and receive enhanced services for up to six months
- Palliative Outreach Program – A palliative care approach using Advanced Practitioner Nurses, supporting people in their homes
- TeleCheck expansion – An expansion of this successful program that has daily assurance, safety and social call-out programs to seniors living independently, with emergency response when necessary
McReynolds recently remarked, “The Aging at Home funding is important because it helps individuals and their families in a positive way while improving the overall local health system. When senior citizens are well cared for, everyone benefits. It is one of the reasons the Central West LHIN has put such an emphasis on ensuring Aging at Home programs are among our top priorities.”