SAULT REGION HOSPITAL
During the pandemic, social isolation, functional decline and burnout for caregivers were concerns faced by the elderly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Algoma Geriatric Clinic (AGC) continues to provide follow-up care to patients and is open to new referrals.
The clinic offers specialized geriatric care to increase the functional capacity, independence and quality of life of seniors and their care partners. The MCO continues to provide patient care during this unprecedented period through virtual means and over the phone.
“Although geriatric services in the community may seem different, many organizations continue to work to ensure that seniors are supported in the community,” said Dr. Katriina Hopper, geriatrician, Algoma Geriatric Clinic.
In fact, organizations are collaborating more than ever before, harnessing the power of technology to ensure that seniors continue to receive services and have the opportunity to socialize. “I believe the other side of this pandemic will result in a more cohesive and supportive healthcare environment for our elderly population, with more options for contact between patients and their healthcare providers.”
The Algoma Geriatric Clinic in partnership with the North East Specialized Geriatric Center (NESGC) has established links with community partners such as the North East LHIN, the Red Cross, the Group Health Center and the March of dimes to facilitate virtual visits.
“A virtual“ home visit ”can allow a fragile person to see his doctor without leaving his home and allow him to see how his patient works in his environment. This could be safer for the patient and provide more information to the doctor to help them develop a better plan of care, “said Dr. Hopper.
The clinic has started videoconferencing between patients and providers at the Algoma Geriatric Clinic to conduct assessments. “We piloted videoconferencing with a group of patients who already have home technology,” says Dr. Hopper. “Our team is also working with our community partners to improve the reach of technology in the home of patients who may not have the appropriate technology to ensure access to geriatric consultations.”
In addition to offering virtual services, the Clinic has reorganized services such as the Frail to Fit exercise classes. These courses have been temporarily suspended and converted to live online education on fall prevention, providing opportunities for socialization and education. Isolation is a real concern for the health of seniors.
“We know that loneliness is linked to serious health problems and social ties help improve outcomes for seniors living with frailty and dementia,” says Dr. Hopper. With this in mind, the Algoma Geriatric Clinic and Seniors Mental Health collaborated with SAH volunteers to create the “Algoma Senior Telephone Outreach Program”.
Seniors who are socially isolated from their programs are matched with a volunteer, who will call them to offer a friendly telephone conversation and social connection. For older adults who have access to the Internet and feel comfortable there, social media and video conferencing with family and friends can be helpful.
The MCO accepts referrals from primary care and medical specialists. Patients can also refer themselves to Ontario’s mental health and behavior support program for seniors. Registered nurses in geriatric emergency management also work in the emergency department.
Please do not delay seeking care if you feel sick or if your chronic condition worsens. If you are a patient or caregiver working in the Algoma Geriatric Clinic or in the mental health of the elderly and your symptoms or behavior worsen, please call the Algoma Geriatric Clinic at 705-759-3434 ext. 6970 or Mental health of the elderly at 705-759-3434 ext. 6960.
Resources for Seniors:
- For seniors who do not have the Internet, the “A Friendly Voice” telephone line for Ontario seniors is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 12 pm (1-855-892-9992)
- For caregivers of seniors with frailty or dementia, visit www.ontariocaregiver.ca
- 24/7 hotline, 1-833-416-2273 (CARE) and live chat on the website
- For seniors and caregivers with dementia, visit www.alzheimer.ca
- “The Wrinkle”, https://www.thewrinkle.ca/ – an information blog and You Tube series produced by an Ontario geriatrician