Personal care home placement process back to normal

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What is Peak Demand as it relates to Personal Care Home Placement?

What is the normal process for accessing personal care home beds?

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Monday, January 17, 2011

Last fall's spike in demand for rooms in personal care homes has eased over the last three months, Winnipeg Health Region officials confirmed today.

As a result, a temporary personal care home prioritization process known as "Peak Demand" has ended, and the regular placement process is now in effect.

"We're back to our normal process," said Réal Cloutier, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Long Term Care for the Region.

Generally, the Region places about 40 residents a week in personal care homes throughout the city, with about half those placements coming from the community and the rest from hospitals.

Occasionally, the number of hospital-based patients awaiting placement in a personal care home surges, causing a bottleneck in the system. In order to free up the hospital beds, the Region implements the Peak Demand process, which changes the placement formula to allow for more hospital-based patients to move into personal care homes.

That's what happened last October when the number of people in hospital waiting for a room in a personal care home jumped to 134, nearly twice as many as usual. "Essentially, we temporarily changed the formula so that placements were about two-thirds from hospitals and one-third from the community," said Cloutier. "This allowed us to free up hospital beds for Emergency and other hospital patients who needed acute care beds."

Since the Peak Demand process was implemented, the Region has placed a large number of hospital patients in personal care homes. As of Jan. 13, the number of people waiting in hospital was 73, which is in keeping with historical patterns.

Cloutier credits families and Region staff members for their role in making Peak Demand process work. "I'd like to thank all the families affected by the peak demand for their patience and collaboration," said Cloutier. "Additionally, I want to thank all staff for their diligent work in managing the complexity of demands for health-care services and demonstrating compassion and flexibility in working with families."

The Peak Demand process was established about four years ago and is used occasionally - the last time was during the H1N1 pandemic. "Every now and then there are temporary blips in the flow of patients from hospitals to personal care homes for various reasons, and this process helps us manage the bottleneck," said Cloutier. "It's really a normal part of managing the system. We need to ensure that bed capacity is available to address demand for acute care services. If capacity becomes compromised, the number of people in Emergency Departments waiting to access inpatient services increases."

During the last two years, the number of people awaiting placement from the community has fluctuated between 250 and 350 a week, while the number of hospital-based patients waiting for a personal care home room has ranged from 70 to 125 a week.

Over the course of a year, The Region will place more than 2,000 residents in personal care homes throughout Winnipeg. "We continue to assess supply and demand of personal care homes beds and other services like home care and supportive housing to ensure adequate supply to meet current and future demand," said Cloutier.

What is Peak Demand as it relates to Personal Care Home Placement?

Peak Demand is a process used during very high demand periods for personal care home rooms. Under this process, individuals waiting in hospitals are given priority for personal care home placement. Peak Demand also allows for priority placement of people living in the community who are waiting for a personal care home room and will likely be admitted to hospital if urgent placement does not occur.

What is the normal process for accessing personal care home beds?

Generally, anyone eligible for long-term care must first choose their personal care home. Once a choice is made, the prospective resident in the community is placed on a list until a room becomes available. If they need a room before a room in their preferred home is available, they will be offered the first available room in another personal care home. Individuals in hospital who require a personal care home room but cannot access one of their choice must chose an alternate interim room.

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