Hospice Muskoka and the Andy Potts Memorial Foundation join forces
Hospice Muskoka is a volunteer-driven, community based, not-for-profit organization providing compassionate support to individuals and their loved ones of all ages and backgrounds, who are coping with end-of-life issues that has been serving the residents of South and West Muskoka since 1995.
On June 20 2005, Constable Andrew Potts and partner Matt Hanes of the OPP were involved in a car accident while on duty. Tragically, Andy was killed and Matt was seriously injured. In 2006, The Andy Potts Memorial Foundation was created to raise money for community projects in Andy’s name. Since 2012, the Foundation has been working tirelessly to achieve a campaign goal of 2.5 million to build Andy’s House, an integrated Hospice Palliative Care Hub.
Hospice Muskoka has been working on the development of a Hospice Residence since 2001. Thanks to the hard work of the Andy Potts Memorial Foundation and the generous support of many different individuals, groups, businesses and the community, 75% of the $2.5 million dollar capital campaign has been realized. Construction for the site is planned to commence in early summer of 2018, with a projected opening date in the spring of 2019. . The Andy Potts Memorial Foundation plans to gift the building to Hospice Muskoka when completed. The facility will be situated on a 13.4 acre parcel of land in Port Carling donated by local resident Brock Napier to the Township of Muskoka Lakes. As Hospice Muskoka serves all of South and West Muskoka, it is an ideal location, overlooking the Indian River and no more than 25 minutes from most communities in South and West Muskoka or 20 minutes’ drive from the hospital in Bracebridge. On May 17, The Committee of the Whole unanimously voted to authorize a land lease between Township of Muskoka Lakes and Hospice Muskoka to be signed.
The facility is being built as a series of pods, to best suit the site where it will be located. Each pod can be dedicated to its own functionality. Hospice Muskoka is planning to move its current operation – Visiting Hospice Volunteer, Grief and Bereavement, Caregiver support and Hospice Palliative Care Education programs to Andy’s House when it opens.
In 2016, the Ministry of Health announced funding for 200 additional residential beds in Ontario, of which 10 beds were allocated to the North Simcoe Muskoka region. The North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (NSM LHIN) selected Orillia and Midland Penetanguishene each for 5 bed palliative residences as Muskoka already had 5 beds located in Huntsville. Even though the NSM LHIN could not fund our request for Andy’s House, the Board of Hospice Muskoka realized that there is significant need that will only increase over time and has committed to opening three self-funded palliative beds to begin with. The board will continue to petition for next round funding.
A NEW MODEL FOR END-OF-LIFE CARE
South and West Muskoka has a permanent population of 36,658 and an estimated seasonal population of 63,5701 which represents 70.4% of the entire population of Muskoka with an estimated growth of 1% per year
22% of Muskoka’s population are older than 65 years of age versus the provincial average of 15%
Muskoka is served by Muskoka Algonquin Health Care with two hospitals – Huntsville site in the north and Bracebridge site in the south. Both sites have very high Alternative Level of Care levels (patients who occupy acute care beds who could be more economically served in a more appropriate setting). The hospitals are often over-occupied as much as 126% and with high rates of patients who could be moved to a more appropriate setting, but have nowhere to move to, the opportunity to improve patient flow is very limiting.
There is an extreme shortage of Personal Support Workers in health care across the province, which is particularly evident in rural regions like South and West Muskoka and does limit Home Care Services
The only end-of-life options in our region to remain at home is to engage Hospice Muskoka Visiting Volunteers, family and friends, pay for private care, or; be admitted to hospital or Algonquin Grace Hospice in Huntsville. Clearly, there is a need for additional options in South and West Muskoka.
Helping Hands Orillia has over 40 years of experience offering senior care in the community and has extensive experience in providing supportive housing, working with frail seniors and operating Transitional Beds in the community. Helping Hands has recently moved into Muskoka as the home care provider in the community, supplementing the services provided by Home and Community Care.
Helping Hands has been very successful in developing a new model for transitional care beds which has demonstrated relief to the Alternative Level of Care crisis in local hospitals, and also provides alternatives to individuals who would benefit from a palliative approach to care. In 2018, Hospice Muskoka and Helping Hands entered into exploratory discussions to develop a proposal for Transitional Care Beds to be located in Andy’s House in Port Carling. This addition would provide crucial support for individuals who may need care prior to the last 15 - 20 days of life. In March 2018, The Board of Helping Hands endorsed moving forward in developing this new and innovative program.
The model being proposed would eventually see Hospice Muskoka and Helping Hands sharing common facilities, including kitchen, dining area, living room spaces, a spiritual care room, a children’s play room and library. Hospice Muskoka’s administrative offices would be located adjacent to the public space. The first four bed pod would be dedicated to 3 palliative residential beds and 1 respite bed. The second 4-bed pod and the third 2-bed pod would accommodate 6 transitional care beds.
When complete, the site would house two established organizations working in parallel under one roof, providing complimenting services. This highly innovative model will provide the citizens of South and West Muskoka options for high quality hospice palliative care, psycho-social, emotional and practical support for individuals and their families, and a home like setting that is outside of hospital if the individual does not require acute care. As well, the model is economical, leveraging the strengths of both organizations and opportunities for shared staffing. It is has limitless possibilities to provide the greatest impact on ALC rates at local hospitals. To our knowledge, no model like this is currently in operation anywhere in Ontario and the potential would be significant for both agencies.
This community hub’s palliative residence would be designed to meet the Community Residential Hospice Standards adopted by Hospice Palliative Care Ontario in March 2005 and upgraded in 2018, and will provide: