Choosing home first

By combining efforts across the province and strengthening a home-first philosophy, our employees and partners worked with clients to ensure they had the supports needed to stay at home, where most people prefer to be.

Our focused efforts are making a difference. In 2015-16, we saw:

  • 38 per cent fewer Nova Scotians waiting to enter a long-term care facility
    • 2,296 people on March 31, 2015
    • 1,432 people on March 31, 2016
  • 22 per cent fewer people waiting for home support services
    • 834 people on March 31, 2015
    • 648 people on March 31, 2016
  • five per cent increase in long-term care placements
    • 2,961 placements in 2014-15
    • 3,117 placements in 2015-16
  • six per cent decrease in wait times for long-term care placement
  • 13 per cent fewer patients waiting in hospital for long-term care placement
    • 216 patients waiting in hospital as of March 31, 2015
    • 187 patients waiting in hospital as of March 31, 2016

Moving toward more collaborative primary care teams

It’s important that all Nova Scotians have access to a “health home” – a place they can access a team of primary care providers. This team could include family physicians, nurse practitioners, family practice nurses and others.

Over the past year, Nova Scotia Health Authority has worked with others to set the foundation to strengthen Nova Scotia’s primary health care system. We have done this by building on the collaborative care models already in place. While much work remains to improve access to primary care, this year’s efforts have set the course for future success.

In 2015-16, the organization developed a geographic framework that clusters Nova Scotia communities together as part of larger community health networks. In the future, “health home” teams will support communities from birth to end of life, from wellness to frailty.

This geographic framework focuses on local needs in the context of a provincial health system. Health homes will be flexible to meet the needs of patients based on population profiles. They will also be responsive to community needs.

A provincial department of family practice was formed this year to support a collaborative approach to primary health care. The model, co-led by physician leaders and administrative leaders, was created to:

  • strengthen relationships between family physicians and teams
  • improve patient care and access
  • provide a foundation for collaborative family practice in Nova Scotia

Improving access to MRI testing

New strategies and realigned resources in diagnostic imaging are allowing more MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. This has helped to reduce the list of those waiting for these important diagnostic tests.

In 2015-16, an additional 745 patients received MRI scans compared with 2014-15. Using resources differently allowed for this growth in capacity with little to no added cost.

For example, a part-time technologist position at Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, created using existing resources, and scheduling changes at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish allowed Nova Scotia Health Authority to complete many more MRI tests in 2016 as compared with 2015 for that area of the province. Other changes have been implemented in Annapolis Valley and South West, Colchester-East Hants and Pictou County areas, to enable many more patients to be seen each month in these locations.

While waits for MRI tests have increased in the Halifax area, a new 3T MRI machine at the QEII Health Sciences Centre has increased capacity for both research and patient use. Plans call for changes in staffing and scheduling, which we expect will result in the ability to see an additional 200 patients a month.

Supporting the health of new Nova Scotians

Nova Scotia Health Authority, IWK Health Centre, Department of Health and Wellness and the Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia supported the arrival of hundred of refugees from Syria in late 2015 and into 2016. Provincial planning began long before refugees started arriving. Nova Scotia Health Authority provided on-the-ground access to primary health care.

This included enhancing resources at the regular location of the Transitional Health Clinic for Refugees in Halifax and adding care resources via satellite clinics. Physicians provided initial assessments at a welcome centre where refugees stayed until they found permanent housing. The Transitional Health Clinic and individual physicians continue to provide ongoing primary care and help with integration into the health care system.

Our staff and partners also prepared a resource guide for health professionals in the province who are providing ongoing care to refugees.

Stories of caring together

Collaborative practice teams, as a “Health Home” for patients, are an important element of ensuring the right services are available in the right places.

“ When my family arrived in Nova Scotia, we had no family doctor. We had no means to care for our health. The refugee health clinic has been a great benefit to my family and fellow immigrants. It is a wonderful, lifechanging intiative.” - ALPHONSE MUTANGOMA PATIENT, REFUGEE HEALTH CLINIC
Photo: The Chronicle Herald

  • Nova Scotia Health Authority Provincial Office, 90 Lovett Lake Court, Suite 201
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3S 0H6
  • Telephone: 1-844-491-5890