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Care Comes Back Home

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Oris Retallack, Patient/Client Advocate

Alternate Level of Care Days. 

Available hospital beds. 


While useful in measurement and planning, these terms tend to separate the person from the care.  

When in hospital, clients have already been separated from their homes. Sometimes from family. Sometimes even from decisions of where they will be after they leave the hospital.  

Our OHT-ÉSO is working on a commitment to the client, their family and their community to get them the care they need, where they need it, with their own home being the first choice.  

Home First is a philosophy that has been in practice in various forms in the Ottawa region for 10 years. Now the OHT-ÉSO has put together a working group to help coordinate a revised, multi-faceted version of the philosophy with partners at all levels of care, as well as clients and caregivers. 

Former nurse and long-time advocate, Oris Retallack, is on the Home First Implementation Team to help bring forward those voices of clients and caregivers. 

“Access to true coordination and true participation of the client and the family are really important,” said Oris. “Because then you're doing it with them, rather than having it being done to them. It takes a different approach to take some more time upfront because the client and family need to be educated along with whatever else was going on.” 


“Really, to me, it's what makes sense,” says Carol Murphy. Carol is a Social Worker and co-led the Home First initiative at The Ottawa Hospital. “Hospitals are not the best places for patients to wait for their next level of care. Hospitals excel at acute care or sub-acute care and do a fabulous job taking care of patients. (But it’s) a hectic environment. There are some recreational activities on transitional units, but not all the activities which someone might need. It's not a home-like setting." 


Earlier this year, the OHT-ÉSO conducted a survey of Partners who would help bring a system-wide Home First philosophy into existence. Those conversations set the stage for a framework to direct the Implementation Team. Areas like Stakeholder Engagement, System Readiness, Service Capacity Improvement and Assessment and Discharge Planning will be areas of focus moving forward.  

Carol Murphy sees this framework leading to more coordinated community care. “I think one of the really important pieces to consider is that hospitals are transitioning care to their partners in the community,” said Carol. “It's not that hospitals have decided that someone needs to be discharged and they kind of fall into an abyss. It's that we have moved those patients onto our partners, and it's all part of one trajectory of care.” 

“I really am very impressed that there is so much uptake,” said Oris. “I see a commitment in these meetings.” 

“That really gives me hope.” 

Hospital Bed

“I really am very impressed that there is so much uptake.

That really gives me hope.” 

- Oris Retallack

Carol Murphy, Social Worker, TOH

The Home First Implementation Action Team meets bi-monthly.

Its key objective is to employ all available resources in order to improve access to care in the most appropriate setting; with the goal of ensuring no patient is relegated to an alternative level of care in the hospital. Thereby all other suitable places of care are explored, including the community, patient’s home, rehabilitation centres etc.

Doctor and Patient
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