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Frail seniors program in P.E.I. receives national recognition

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A P.E.I. health program aimed to help seniors with complex medical issues stay in their own homes has received some national recognition.

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The Caring for Older Adults at Home or in Community (COACH) program was recently recognized with the Canadian Frailty Network’s Conference Choice Frailty Innovation Award.

The program was chosen by conference attendees out of the country’s top 30 programs dedicated to frailty in older adults.

The COACH program currently supports more than 60 Island seniors in Kings and Prince counties and provides an opportunity for Island seniors who wish to remain in their own homes.

Mary Sullivan, director of home and geriatric care, said being recognized for the program’s innovative approach is validating.

“The program is life-changing for our clients, and we are fortunate to have an incredible team of health care providers who collaborate with other programs, services and health care professionals to support frail seniors enjoy a quality of life that they deserve while living in their own home,” said Sullivan.

“The program is life-changing for our clients.” – Mary Sullivan, geriatric nurse practitioner

As part of its conference presentation, the COACH Program debuted a video about its service and how it helps frail Island seniors.

The COACH Program’s geriatric nurse practitioner plays a key role on the multi-faceted team of experts, acting as the glue between various sectors of the health care system. An assessment is conducted and the nurse practitioner will identify a number of things that can be done to help seniors stay at home before following up with a team to implement those changes step-by-step.

Souris-based COACH geriatric nurse practitioner Kristen Mallard was featured in the video explaining her role in the program.

“My job is to support older adults living at home,” said Mallard. “We’re empowering people to be in control of their own lives with the ability to make decisions. It matters because they’re in their own home.”

The program was launched in Montague as a pilot in 2015. It was developed in partnership with home care, primary care and the provincial geriatric programs.

The program, which is now also based in Souris, Summerside and O’Leary, will also be expanding to Queens County following a $140,000 government investment.

Health Minister Robert Mitchell congratulated COACH program staff on their national accolades for the innovative approach.

“This program is a wonderful example of our commitment to developing and implementing home-first, age-in-place initiatives for seniors, near seniors, and caregivers,” said Mitchell.


Need to know

The goals of the COACH program are to improve access to care for frail seniors with complex needs by:

- Supporting seniors to remain in their home longer or return home sooner by collaborating with partner programs.

- Reducing duplication and repetition for seniors through sharing of information between partner programs.

- Increasing awareness of and expertise in caring for complex geriatric syndromes.

- The COACH program does not replace referrals by family physicians to the geriatric program.

- More information on the COACH program and eligibility is available at Healthpei.ca/coach.

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