New projects help health care delivery in Trail

Seniors and those suffering mental health, substance abuse issues
targeted in Interior Health projects

Trail is receiving two new health care programs to help seniors and those suffering from mental health issues and substance abuse.

Mental health and substance abuse programs will see an injection of cash from the Interior Health Authority to the tune of $2.7 million.

It will be directed across nine communities to expand mental health service. In Trail and Nelson, five full-time equivalent (FTE) new staffing positions will be added including social workers, a nurse and life skills workers.

By ensuring consistent access to a doctor’s care and other support services the program could lower emergency department use at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital by those suffering from mental illness.

“A large proportion of this population doesn’t have a family doctor,” said Cliff Cross, program director of Mental Health and Substance Use with the IHA.

“At the same time, many have pressing health care issues that can exacerbate their illness and seriously impact quality of life.”

The initiative also includes Home First in Trail, a program to help keep seniors destined for residential care, or at risk of hospitalization, at home.

Using a support team of dedicated health-care workers and a person’s physician, an individualized service and care plan would be created to make sure seniors’ needs are met.

The Home First program brings together health professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, rehabilitation assistants, and community health workers to provide service for people with complex care needs.

It also helps address challenging social and environmental factors for seniors, said Interior Health’s Home Health program director, Kathy Chouinor.

“These may be frail elderly clients with dementia, for example, or someone struggling with chronic disease,” she said. “If we can help them avoid hospital admission, it’s much better for their well being.”

The two initiatives are being carried out over a period of three years.