OTTAWA -- With long-term care homes nearly at capacity in Ontario, and the wait for seniors to get into a home just as long, the Ontario Government has announced new funding to cut down the wait lists and allow people to stay safely in their homes

The Ford government is investing $5-million into community paramedicine programs. The funding will allow paramedics in the City of Ottawa, Renfrew County, Brant County, Cochrane District, and York Region to make more in-home visits to those on wait lists for long-term care.

"There are some people that are on the wait list right now, but if they can be supported in their own home, they may be able to stay there and not need long term care," says Merrilee Fullerton, Kanata-Carleton MPP and Minister of Long-Term Care.

Fullerton says across Ontario, long-term care homes were at 99 per cent capacity heading into the first wave of COVID-19. In Renfrew County, where Friday's announcement was first made, paramedic chief Mike Nolan says 598 people across the county are currently on a wait list for long-term care. Nolan says with this program, their goal is to make sure those people never need to move into a long-term care facility.

"Paramedics will be able to go in the home, do a full clinical assessment," says Nolan. "They’ll be able to draw blood and analyze blood samples in the homes. They’ll be able to do flu shots for example, as well they’ll be able to administer medications and allow those patients to meet their own care needs."

Michael Prince is in his 80’s and lives with his daughter Kim Prince in Renfrew. He receives regular visits monthly from Renfrew Paramedics. "They’ve helped me out on different occasions and I appreciate that if it wasn’t for them I would probably not be here," attests Prince.

Prince’s daughter says she doesn’t know where they’d be without the regular visits. "It’s very comforting to have them come into the home. It’s better than taking him into the hospital because he refuses to go most times. And he enjoys their company, to talk to them. He talks more freely about things than he does with me."

Fullerton says the non-emergency care paramedics can provide with in-home visits can also help reduce strain on other sectors of health care. "If someone can be supported in their home and get the care and support they need, then there is a better chance that we can reduce unnecessary visits to hospitals."

"I enjoy the visit and I know I’m in good hands with the paramedics," says Prince.


A previous version of this article mistakenly said 598 people across the country are on a waitlist for long-term care. The correct figure is 598 people across the county.