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Striving to create 'homes'

Dear editor Most of us carry warm thoughts of "home". Home is where we go for rest, nourishment, and the comfort of things and people familiar to us. Some of us require the assistance of other people to help us live in our own homes.

Dear editor

Most of us carry warm thoughts of "home". Home is where we go for rest, nourishment, and the comfort of things and people familiar to us.

Some of us require the assistance of other people to help us live in our own homes. When those needs become so great they can no longer be met in our own homes, we may have to leave our surroundings to have our needs met elsewhere.

The reality is this can happen to a child, young adult, or adult, as well as it can to a senior. Regardless of the person's age, he or she will experience the loss of "home" and will have to adjust to new faces, a new home and new routines.

In Saskatchewan, a special care home is a facility that provides residential long-term care services for individuals with heavy care needs that cannot be met in the individual's own residence through home care or community-based services. Residency in a special care home is not restricted or defined by age.

Under The Regional Health Services Act (2002), the minister of health designates a facility owned by a regional health authority to one of five categories: addiction treatment centre, health centre, hospital, residential treatment centre or special care home. Prairie North Health Region has 12 designated special care homes, three of which are in the Battlefords: River Heights Lodge, Battlefords District Care Centre and Villa Pascal (an affiliate owned by Societe Joseph Breton Inc.).

Many special care or nursing homes in Saskatchewan began as homes for seniors and have evolved to provide care to any individual with an assessed need for the level of care provided in the home. Such is the case with River Heights Lodge in North Battleford. RHL was constructed in the early 1960s to meet the needs of retired seniors. But by the mid-1970s, RHL had transitioned into a special care home providing service to level 3 and level 4 care residents.

Individuals are admitted to special care homes on the basis of assessed need. The assessment and prioritizing of individuals for placement in special care homes is done using standardized assessment tools. A committee of people working in long-term care and home care programs meets regularly to review these assessments and determine whether or not people meet the criteria for placement in long-term care. The priority waitlist is also reviewed. A variety of factors are considered in placement decisions; however, the key factors considered are assessed need and risk to the individual client.

Prairie North Health Region does its best to match the request of a person and his/her family for placement of the individual in the special care home of his/her choice. This is the case for a child as well as any adult client. Most people prefer to remain in the community where they have lived as that is where their family and friends are. We understand the importance of location; however, it is not always possible to match the person to the first bed that is available.

PNHR has a transfer protocol that provides a person with the option to go on a transfer list to be moved to the facility of his/her choice, after he or she has taken the first bed available at another facility. When a bed becomes available at the facility of their choice, people on the transfer list are asked in the order they appear on the list, whether or not they still wish to locate there. If the person still wishes to transfer to his or her facility of choice, the transfer is arranged.

Staff and volunteers do their best to create a home-like environment for residents in our special care homes. This is a challenge as people have different interests, likes, and dislikes. Age differences across the generations place further demands on staff creativity and innovation.

Trying to balance the needs of all residents and provide quality of life for each requires effort and commitment. Prairie North Health Region is committed to these goals and to working with staff, residents and residents' families to make our special care homes "homes" for everyone living in them.

Barbara Jiricka

Vice-President of Integrated Health Services

Prairie North Health Region

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