How to Use Technology to Make Aging at Home Easier

Two of the leading causes of hospitalization in Ontario are Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  The majority of the people with these illnesses are over the age of 65 With Telehomecare, seniors can live at home longer and their caregivers can provide better care, and do so with peace of mind. Telehomecare is now available through Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) and/or select hospitals across Ontario, as outlined below by Sarah Warmington, Supervisor of Program Engagement for Telehomecare.

Transforming the Lives of People with Heart Failure and COPD

With the Telehomecare program, technology is used to deliver healthcare services to patients with CHF and/or COPD in their homes.  This is typically done by the monitoring of heart rate, oxygen levels, weight, blood pressure, etc. as well as other health related information.  The monitoring is offered with an educational component provided to patients.

Clients are loaned a small tablet, oxygen monitor, blood   pressure cuff and scale to monitor their weight and vitals for six months. Clients also answer some questions about their health on the tablet daily, Monday to Friday.  The health questions are simple “yes” or “no” questions or rate on a scale of 1-5.  For example, “are you having more trouble breathing since yesterday?” This information is sent remotely to the Telehomecare nurse who calls the client if the weight, vitals or answers to the questions on the tablet are concerning.

The Telehomecare nurse also calls clients bi-weekly to do health education on topics such as diet, stress management and medication management.  Once the equipment is dropped off and set up by the Telehomecare technician, this program is delivered through the telephone and the equipment.  The equipment is simple and easy-to-use. No previous experience with a computer is required. The Telehomecare team supports the client through every step from learning how to use the equipment to goal setting and self-management in order to achieve better health at home.

The goals of Telehomecare are:

  1. Decrease Emergency Department visits
  2. Decrease Hospital admissions
  3. Increase clients’ confidence in their ability to self-manage their chronic disease
  4. Support the client’s doctor or Nurse Practitioner

Telehomecare helps you to learn how to feel better by teaching you about how to identify and manage your symptoms, eating, exercising, managing your medications and setting goals that are unique to you.  Clients of all ages—from 33 to 103 years old have completed the program.

In a provincial survey on Telehomecare, 94% responded that Telehomecare improved their ability to self-manage their CHF or COPD.  Further, 96% indicated they would likely recommend the program to others. In fact, six months after completing the Telehomecare program, there is an 88% drop in the number of Emergency Department visits made by participants.  Considering the average age of someone on Telehomecare is 79 years, these results are impressive!  As the wife of one client said, “The program gives me great peace of mind…”

For more information about Telehomehomecare, call Sarah Warmington, at 416.222.2241 x4363
Written by:  Sarah Warmington & Opal Rowe

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