Doctors Trialling On-site Visits in Assisted Living Complexes

29 November, 2023 | Centre de santé Saint-Boniface

Physicians from Centre de santé Saint-Boniface have started making house calls to a few assisted living complexes in their neighbourhood as part of an informal pilot project. “Many of our clients have been with us a long time and are now living at Résidence Despins or Villa Aulneau,” shares Primary Care Manager, Nicole Cazemayor. “Some of them have difficulties coming in to see us due to mobility or transportation and staffing issues. We decided to try to bring the care to them. We can reduce barriers and make healthcare more accessible.”

Doctor Véronique Demers and Doctor Émilie Fowler, two physicians from the centre, had the initial idea for home visits and brought it to Cazemayor and the medical lead, Michelle Grabowski. Within a 30-minute meeting, a schedule had been worked out and the program was up and running. “I was so appreciative of the response of the Centre de santé staff and leadership,” shares Dr. Demers. “Everyone thought it was a good idea and there were no obstacles in our way. We wanted to make it happen, so we did.”

Nicole Cazemayor

The program has begun with monthly half-day visits, where doctors can see between 8 to 15 patients, depending on their needs. “As patients age, there are a lot of chronic issues and a lot of medications to be managed,” explains Cazemayor. “There are issues with memory, fatigue, diabetes, and wound care. The nurses at both complexes are wonderful, accommodating and a huge support to our doctors. They have the personal knowledge to help us serve everyone best. We’re thankful to them for the ways they’re supporting this concept, too.”

Dr. Demers, who saw 14 patients on her first trip to Villa Aulneau, confirms that feedback was positive. “The nurses are happy that we’re there, and are so on top of everything, which make this a lot easier,” she shares. “All the patients I saw mentioned what a wonderful change this is for them and how much they appreciate it, especially as the weather is turning cold and sidewalks are getting slippery.”

Physicians in Manitoba and in Canada are in high demand these days, and it was important to find a balance for Drs. Demers and Fowler. “Trying to find time within busy schedules was the biggest challenge, but we’ve set the schedule until September, 2024,” explains Cazemayor. “We’ll re-evaluate on the fly, but we’ve also set a meeting for the mid-point to see what’s working or not. It also involves a bit of logistics to ensure that the physicians have everything they need on site, like sutures and other materials. Again, the nurses are helping to keep that organized for us. It’s a lot of teamwork.”

While the pilot rolls on, Cazemayor reflects on the motivation to bring it to life. “This is a project that is truly good for everyone,” she concludes. “We know that it’s appreciated and those in the community need it. But the doctors need it, too. They were so excited to be able to try this. It’s their community, too, and they want to be connected to it. We’re looking forward to how else we can adapt to the needs of our community!”