Maureen Blamey is a seniors outreach social worker with the geriatrics team. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Maureen Blamey is a seniors outreach social worker with the geriatrics team. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

New geriatrics team to help seniors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

The Seniors Service Team was formed to improve the quality of life for pre-frail and frail, medically complex seniors

A new team in support of seniors’ health has been launched at the Ridge Meadows Wellness Centre.

The Seniors Service Team was formed over the past year and is geared to improving the quality of life for pre-frail and frail, medically complex seniors.

Prior to this team being formed elderly patients would be referred to the New Westminster or Abbotsford Geriatric Clinics.

Now comprehensive and coordinated team-based supports will be offered locally.

“This service will create more capacity for physicians by supporting providers with tools, education, access to specialist advice and medication advice, and a support team that will enhance the care of their frail elderly and medically frail patients,” explained Jackie Amsden, communications manager, Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice.

Amsden shared data from 2016 to 2017 that showed the seniors population, those aged 65 and above, and considered to be frail living in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to be about 3,939 people, or about 27 per cent of the seniors population. And, she said, population growth estimates that the seniors population will increase by an additional 10 to 11 per cent in the next five years.

Even now she is hearing that seniors often find it difficult to see their doctors due to transportation challenges, health concerns on days of appointments and their family being unable to help.

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“The act of getting dressed and prepared for the appointment can be exhausting and overwhelming for the frail elderly or medically frail patients,” noted Amsden.

And there are other challenges that they have to deal with, said Amsden, like caregiver burnout, lack of supports and a limited number of assisted living beds – all of which create a service gap for this population.

“We are aiming to provide a one stop service location for geriatric support along with a team-based care approach to provide the frail elderly with appropriate supports in their homes.

“This will enable the elderly to remain at home as long as possible, reduce unnecessary ER and hospital stays, and enhance provider and family communication,” she added.

The team is made up of seniors outreach coordinator, a geriatric social worker, a geriatric registered nurse and geriatricians – Dr. Peter O’Connor and Dr. Belinda Rodis. The team is supported by the attachment coordinator, patient services coordinator, and patient education coordinator.

RELATED: Seniors Food Bank starting again in Maple Ridge

As a group they will provide geriatric assessments, a consult to a geriatrician if required, emotional support and counselling, caregiver support and education.

Their object is to support pre-frail seniors living at home and act as a single point of entry for frail and medically complex seniors needing Specialized Community Services Programs.

Seniors can access the care through their general practitioner or nurse practitioner who can both refer them to the team. Unattached patients can access the team through a referral from a walk-in clinic.

The team was formed by the Primary Care Network service plan, that is funded by the Ministry of Health, and is the result of patient feedback and involvement in the steering committee and stakeholder meetings.

A representative from the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie Seniors Network also participated in the meetings.

“Patients can expect a less complicated journey with providers that are working together to provide care,” said Amsden.

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