Six months into the new Surveillance Nurse program within Interior Health, remote telephone checks are having a positive influence and helping independent seniors stay at home longer.
“This program is a great example of a simple idea that has a big impact,” said Sharon Whitby, Home Health Practice Lead for Interior Health. “The Surveillance Nurses help clients remain in their own homes and avoid hospital admissions. These are great achievements for both clients and the health care system. We know most people prefer to stay in their own home to self-manage when they are able.”
The focus is on stable long-term Home Health clients. Surveillance Nurses phone them to see how they are doing at least once every three months and more if required. Clients may also call the nurse when they have questions or need assistance. The program’s goal is to identify any issues as soon as possible, to help ensure these independent clients continue to do well living at home.
“The regular calls ensure we are being proactive and supporting clients so they continue to be lower needs for as long as possible,” said Whitby. “For example they may need encouragement to increase their activity level, to socialize more, or to quit smoking. Or they may benefit from other support services,” said Whitby.
Surveillance Nurses are currently located in: Williams Lake; Kamloops; Vernon; Kelowna; Penticton; Cranbrook; and Castlegar. They support approximately 280 clients. As the program grows, they will continue to expand their reach across the health authority.
“The first phone call is usually the most crucial. It’s quite amazing how quickly we can develop a rapport with our clients over the phone,” said Tina Pole, one of the seven Surveillance Nurses. “We are able to find out what supports they have from family or friends and how they are going to be able to maintain or improve their health.”
“In the beginning I didn’t really know how this would work,” said Pole. “Now that I’ve been doing this for a few months, I feel I am making a difference in their lives. Some clients don’t need me as much as another client might, but they really appreciate when I connect with them over the phone. Just knowing someone is checking in on them and is interested in their health makes them feel safe at home.”