Long-term care (LTC) residents have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Keeping older adults safe and out of the emergency department during the pandemic became paramount early in the response and this meant innovating the care model. With virtual care a strategic priority for Women’s College Hospital, working with our partners to accelerate LTC+ was a logical solution.
LTC+ is a multi-institutional virtual care model providing rapid access to a suite of both virtual and in-person care. The aim is to support LTC nursing staff and physicians with clinical advice and access to services to meet the care needs of residents and minimize or prevent admissions to acute care hospitals. This includes 24/7 access to a general internal medical specialist, a wound care specialist and a palliative care specialist for urgent virtual consults, an advance practice nurse to help coordinate timely access to community-based services and rapid access to in-home laboratory and diagnostic imaging services.
Through the acceleration of the program, today LTC+ is available to 54 LTC homes through six hospital hubs across Toronto. This equates to roughly 9,500 LTC patients. With LTC+ in place, almost 50 per cent of emergency department transfers have been avoided in participating homes.
The program continues to expand its offerings with a fracture clinic pathway recently incorporated. This care pathway provides imaging and fracture stabilization services onsite at the LTC home, as well as fast-tracked access for further assessment at the nearby hospital partner for those residents that need it.
Enhancing the care experience within LTC and allowing residents to age in place, rather than being routinely transferred to a nearby hospital, improves their care experience and reduces pressure on the health system at this critical time.