1. Person-Centred, High-Quality, Safe and Sustainable Health and Wellness for Nova Scotians

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Building and strengthening primary health care

Dr. Vienneau

A key step to achieving NSHA’s vision of healthy people, healthy communities for generations – is for Nova Scotians to have access to an interprofessional collaborative family practice team. We are working to create more collaborative family practice teams and strengthen existing teams in Nova Scotia to provide co-ordinated and comprehensive care that meets the health needs of individuals and their families, from birth to end of life.

In late 2017, we began to recruit 39 health professionals, including nurse practitioners, family practice nurses and social workers, to join 23 family practices across the province. Through this investment, seven new collaborative family practice teams are being created in 2018, and 16 are being strengthened.

This builds on our efforts in the spring of 2017, where 23 nurse practitioners and family practice nurses were hired, joining 14 family practices. Combined, 31 collaborative family practice teams in Nova Scotia are being enhanced or created to better support teams to provide care for more Nova Scotians. These and other efforts have contributed to 17,900 people finding a primary care provider, as reported through the Need a Family Practice Registry and other tracking mechanisms (Nov. 2016 to March 2018).

In early 2018, we received more than 100 submissions from family physicians, collaborative family practice teams and other groups as part of an expression of interest to work with us over the next several years to add new health professionals to family practices. Over half of the submissions were from family physicians or groups interested in transitioning to team-based care, working with us for the first time. This continued progress to create and enhance collaborative family practice teams is strengthening the primary health care system in Nova Scotia, supporting ongoing recruitment and retention efforts, and increasing access to comprehensive primary care for more Nova Scotians.

Watch a video about the Westville Collaborative Family Practice.

Improving access to primary health care through group visits

With more than 50,000 Nova Scotians not having access to a regular family practice, we need to think differently about how to bridge the gap in service as we continue to expand collaborative practices across the province.

Primary Health Care has won the prestigious national 3M Health Care Quality Team Award for a group medical visit initiative that is enhancing access to primary health care for Nova Scotians. Beginning in 2015, more than 50 Primary Health Care clinicians participated in training, mentorship, research and evaluation to build capacity to offer these group visits. Positive results to date include:

  • - increased access for patients
  • - satisfaction with receiving timely, relevant and continuous care
  • - cost effectiveness
  • - system efficiencies

Three Primary Health Care Teams are involved in this quality initiative: Weymouth, Hants Health & Wellness Team and the Integrated Chronic Care Services in Fall River.

View video of group visits in action at the Weymouth Medical Centre.

Taking a palliative approach within primary health care

Many people think that palliative care is only offered in the last weeks and months of life. However, a palliative approach to care can help people at any point in their illness, even when someone has many months or years left to live.

Palliative care can include managing symptoms, planning for the future, and addressing the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of patients and their families.

Primary Health Care and Palliative Care worked together as part of the EXTRA Fellowship Program to promote early access to palliative care in a primary setting. Located in Guysborough, the program strives to help patients with a life limiting illness have the opportunity to benefit from the key elements of quality palliative care.