Unique opportunity

Home and family ties called crucial to improving health outcomes

I was overjoyed earlier in the year when, travelling up to Buckerfields, I saw the construction crew busy on the health centre project. Finally the talk was in action! For so long there has been talk about this urgent need for a community that alledgedly has the oldest (age wise) population in Canada and, in my experience, the most inadequate health care options.

At last we had the opportunity to start anew, create a leading edge facility that responds to the needs of the patient and takes forward themes and concerns under review through our health care transformation process.

With this new facility, Oceanside has the opportunity to lead and exemplify health care innovation in not only B.C., but in Canada as a whole.

My heart sank when reports came out that the construction and movement forward was being blocked. At the same time I knew that there were good people with strong feelings passionately wanting this to truly be a reflection of the peoples wishes and not to be rushed through and ultimately ignoring pertinent aspects of the project, namely the call for overnight beds. I thought long and hard about this, asking myself what would really be the best option for patients and families and the most fiscally responsible outcome.

I considered my experience as a nurse, as a VIHA employee, as a mother, as a neighbour embedded in a community with adults challenged by chronic pain, by partners nearing end of life, and by acute and debilitating conditions and all wanting to be able to make choices and to stay in their homes with support and ready access to medical care, on an as needed basis.

I do not believe that creating overnight beds, which would inevitably devolve into just another hallway ghetto as we see in our current hospital emergency departments, with excruciating waits, overworked and overstressed staff doing their best to meet everyone’s needs, and huge overhead expenses maintaining the staffing and working of a 24-hour facility.

I strongly believe that we need to focus on our community support; throw our weight and resources behind short term in-home or privately contracted respite care resources, overnight in home nursing care for brief crises with ongoing coaching and practical support for all families to allow them to remain healthy and to work in partnership with health care providers.

I believe that what our neighbours and loved ones are asking for is a model that supports the values of home and family ties, of maintaining the connections that nurture well being and the maintenance of optimal health within the context of family and community.

Family members are crying out to participate, to partner with health care, but they cannot do it alone. That is the direction our health care dollars, professional resources and transformation needs to focus on. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to be a leader in health care innovation through the development of this new facility.

Jan Nelms





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