Paramedic home visits can head off serious medical problems and keep seniors in their homes longer. They serve as the eyes and ears of the medical community. (contributed)

In Sooke, community paramedics make house calls

Frail, immobile patients treated in their home, avoiding costly trips to hospital

There’s a non-urgent but extremely important aspect to health care that has recently been introduced to the Sooke region.

Sooke is one of the communities where a full-time community paramedic is operating and that service, said Amy Poll, the interim director for community paramedicine, is making a difference.

“One of the challenges we face in Sooke is that we have an ageing population who are not all being accommodated in care homes. There just isn’t space,” Poll said.

“One of the goals of our program is to allow seniors to live in their homes as long as possible,”

RELATED: Paramedic staff shortage

That goal is accomplished, at least in part, by having the paramedics visit seniors in their homes.

Those visits happen by referrals from a doctor and result in scheduled appointments where the paramedic checks in with patients once every week or two.

They help with the management of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes but also help with the management of diet and hygiene, and some simple strategies to keep seniors safe in their own homes.

“For example, everyone loves their throw rugs, but when we’re at a certain age, those rugs become a fall hazard and should be removed,” said Poll.

In Sooke, the full-time community paramedic has 10 regular patients who receive home visits and has participated in 150 client visits in total since the roll-out of the program in 2018.

“We help prevent accidents and can catch folks as they are getting sick, as opposed to treating them after they’ve had a health emergency,” said Poll.

But home visits are only a part of the paramedic’s role.

Their work extends to improving community awareness of chronic illnesses and informing folks about some strategies to living a healthier life.

In the past 11 months, Sooke’s paramedic has also been involved in about 100 community events at which they have helped to inform the community about the service and about health care issues in general.

The paramedic position is now vacant as the person in that position has moved to a different community, but never fear, Poll is assuring the community that a replacement paramedic will be appointed in a few weeks time.

The paramedic program exists in 25 communities on Vancouver Island and 76 B.C. communities in total.

The program targets rural and remote communities that are sometimes underserved and have ageing populations. The program objectives are to help medical services in those communities and bridge health service gaps that may exist.

“We can be the eyes and ears of the medical community, providing broad insights that really aren’t possible in other parts of the health care system,” said Poll.

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