Friday, October 24, 2014

New Study Shows Canadians Want Physician Assistants to Play a Greater Role in Their Health Care

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia October 24, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new study by Nanos Research shows overwhelming support for a rapid expansion of  Physician Assistants (PAs) into Canada's health care system. The study of 1,000 Canadians was released at the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants' (CAPA) Annual Conference in Halifax, where 150 PAs are discussing how to improve patient care through better collaboration with other providers and best practices.

The study reveals that 8 in 10 Canadians are supportive of PAs having a greater role in providing health care and are comfortable receiving care from a PA in Canada. Support for PAs was strongest amongst Canadian seniors of who almost 9 in 10 supported an expansion of PAs. The positive survey results led the President of CAPA to call for immediate action to introduce PAs in those provinces not yet taking advantage of the high level of care provided by these professional.
"PAs can help provide better, faster care to our patients, and especially our seniors," said Chris Rhule President of CAPA. "At a time when governments are struggling to save money, and find innovative ways to better care for our aging population, we need to be moving quickly to ensure we're taking full advantage of these valuable members of the health care team."
While a relatively new profession in Canada, PAs have been practicing in the Canadian Armed Forces for over 50 years and have been instrumental in providing a high level of care to soldiers on the front lines. PAs practice in a variety of specialties including emergency rooms, primary care, orthopedics, psychiatry, neurosurgery in AlbertaManitobaOntario and New Brunswick. Studies from the United States where 95,000 PAs are practicing, demonstrate that PAs can maximize service for patients while helping the health care system to reduce spending and have been shown to decrease the hospital admission rates by 38% for seniors.
Furthermore PAs employed as part of a home care program have successfully reduced 30-day readmission rates for patients."
"PAs are helping an already stressed health system reduce costs, wait times and improve care," said Mr. Rhule. "Patients in British ColumbiaSaskatchewanQuebecNova Scotia, P.E.I., and Newfoundland should also be benefitting from PAs."
The survey results are available on the Nanos Research website:
  • PAs in primary care settings can be used for 75% of all visits without referral to physician level care.
  • PAs can manage up to 62% of all patients in emergency care environments.
  • In an Ontario study on the utilization of PAs; 95% of physicians working with PAs said that the PA had increased their own efficiency in providing care.
  • PAs in emergency departments can reduce wait times by 1.9 times and reduce left without being seen rates by half.
  • PAs can increase surgical throughput of primary joint replacements by 42% a year and reduce wait times for surgeries by 14 weeks.
  • PAs in long-term care settings have been shown to decrease the hospital admission rates by 38% for seniors.
  • Among those Canadians that have received care, more than 75% were satisfied or somewhat satisfied (18%) with the experience.
  • 27% of Canadians have a favourable and 38% had a somewhat favourable impression of PAs.
  • More than eight in ten Canadians support (56%) or somewhat support (26%) a greater role for PAs.
  • 53% of Canadians are comfortable or somewhat comfortable (28%) receiving primary care from a PA under a physician's supervision.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Physician Assistants

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Improving Road Safety - Province Introducing New Legislation to Make Ontario’s Roads Safer

If passed, the proposed legislation and supporting amendments to the Highway Traffic Act will make highways and roads safer by:
  • Increasing fines for distracted driving from its current range of $60 to $500 to a range of $300 to $1,000; assigning three demerit points upon conviction; and adding distracted driving to the existing list of novice driver conditions.
  • Applying current alcohol impaired sanctions to drivers who are drug impaired.
  • Introducing additional measures to address repeat offenders of alcohol impaired driving.
  • Requiring drivers to wait until a pedestrian has completely crossed the road before proceeding at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers.
  • Increasing fines and demerits for drivers who door cyclists, and requiring all drivers to maintain a distance of one metre when passing cyclists, where practicable.
  • Helping municipalities collect unpaid fines by expanding licence plate denial for drivers who do not pay Provincial Offences Act fines. 
Ensuring Ontario's roads and highways are safe is part of the government's economic plan for Ontario. The four part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people's talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

Quick Facts

  • According to recent statistics, over 45 per cent of drivers killed in Ontario were found to have drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol in their system.
  • If current collision trends continue, fatalities from distracted driving may exceed those from drinking and driving by 2016.
  • Pedestrians represent about one in six motor vehicle-related fatalities on Ontario roads — 41 per cent of which occurred at intersections.
  • The proposed legislation would build on existing measures Ontario has introduced to improve road safety, including making booster seats mandatory, ensuring every person wears a seatbelt, introducing stiffer penalties for street racing, bringing in tougher impaired driving laws, and banning hand-held devices while driving.


Steven Del Duca
“If passed, our legislation will help keep pedestrians, drivers and cyclists safe on Ontario’s roads. Thanks to our legacy of tough laws, strong enforcement and partnerships with many dedicated road safety partners, Ontario’s roads are among the safest in North America and these new measures are intended to keep it that way.”
Minister of Transportation

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Beyond the buzz: Bringing 'Person-Centred Care' alive in home, community and long-term care

MARKHAM, OntarioOctober 14, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - "Person-centred care" – it's a powerful concept that is easy to embrace but more difficult to pull off.
To support health organizations and providers in creating a "culture shift" from being task-oriented to being person-centred, Saint Elizabeth Health Care is teaming up with the Alzheimer Society of Canada to deliver education and training on embedding the principles and practices of person-centred care within home care and long-term care settings.  
A series of interactive workshops and a supplementary toolkit will be developed to share innovative ideas and practical strategies for bringing person-centred approaches to life, with measureable results. The two-year project is being funded in part by Health Canada, with in-kind contributions from both the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Saint Elizabeth.
"At Saint Elizabeth, we have a long history of being with people in their homes and understanding what they want and need," says Nancy Lefebre, chief clinical executive and senior VP at Saint Elizabeth. "This project builds on the foundational evidence gathered through our previous research work in developing guidelines for person-centred care of people living with dementia."
There is a surging demand for person-centred approaches in virtually every area of the health system and – as the population ages and needs evolve – a growing emphasis on home, community and long-term care.
Person-Centred Care in Action [VIDEO]A caring friendship: Audrey and PSW Kam
"There is still no cure for Alzheimer's disease and most people living with it will eventually need long-term care," saysMimi Lowi-Young, CEO at the Alzheimer Society of Canada. "But the good news is we can make their day-to-day life better, while supporting the staff who provide care and the families who put their faith and trust in the homes."
The project is being conducted in two phases:
  • In Phase 1, interactive workshops on person-centred care for people living with dementia and their caregivers will be developed, delivered and evaluated with front-line healthcare providers, support staff and management at six sites acrossCanada (three long-term care homes, and three home care service delivery centres).
  • In Phase 2, based on the combined experiences of all the partner organizations, an implementation toolkit will be created to transfer knowledge and assist more organizations with incorporating the principles and practice of person-centred care in their day-to-day operations.
The project will also help organizations meet the new compulsory person-centred care standards that have been added for 2016 by Accreditation Canada, as well as existing CARF Canada standards for long-term care homes.
About Saint Elizabeth Health CareSaint Elizabeth ( has been a trusted name in Canadian health care for more than a century and is a leader in responding to client, family and system needs. As an award-winning national not-for-profit and charitable organization, Saint Elizabeth is known for its track record of social innovation and breakthrough clinical practices. Our team of more than 7,000 nurses, rehab therapists, personal support workers and crisis intervention staff deliver nearly seven million health care visits annually.
About the Alzheimer Society
The Alzheimer Society ( is the leading nationwide health charity for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Active in communities right across Canada, the Society offers help for today through our programs and services, and hope for tomorrow by funding research into the cause, prevention and a cure.
SOURCE Saint Elizabeth Health Care

Friday, October 10, 2014

Winner of the ‘The Robert Munsch Award’ is announced

Guelph, Ontario October 10, 2014 – The Guelph Public Library, along with the generous donation of the Friends of the Guelph Public Library, are proud to announce the winner of “The Robert Munsch Award. This year’s recipient wrote the best short essay or position paper discussing the place or impact of the writings of Robert Munsch in English Language Children’s Literature. Congratulations to Nadine Lincoln for her award winning paper, “Spunky Female Protagonists in Munsch Narratives.” Nadine, a recent Master of Library Science graduate from the University of British Columbia, received a cheque of $1,000 from the Friends of the Guelph Public Library in honour of her lively, well-focussed essay written from a personal and female perspective.

“Robert Munsch is Guelph’s most famous living citizen and Canada’s best-selling author.  He is our hometown hero.  We are thrilled to celebrate his stories and add to the body of research about Bob and his impact on Canadian kid’s lit” said GPL CEO, Kitty Pope.

Thank you to judges Mary Rubio PhD in Literary/Theatre Studies and professor at the University of Guelph, GPL’s children’s librarian Ben Robinson and information librarian, Karen Cafarella as well as to Friends of the GPL Chair, Virginia Gillham. A special thanks to everyone who entered the writing challenge. Entries were received from across Canada and as far away as Kansas, United States.

To read Nadine’s winning paper, visit:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sun Life Financial sheds light on factors and costs of not taking medications correctly

New paper outlines importance of taking medications as prescribed and strategies to increase drug adherence
TORONTOOctober 8, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - For many common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, hypertension and diabetes, patients are able to get a prescription, take their medication and manage or cure their condition.  It can be a simple formula for a return to health. Yet according to the World Health Organization, adherence to long-term therapy for chronic illnesses in developed countries such as Canada averages at just 50 per cent.1
This finding and others were highlighted in a new paper issued today by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Sun Life), which discussed the costs of medication non-adherence and considers some of the reasons why Canadians do not take their medications as prescribed.
"Not taking medications as prescribed can be a major public health problem," says Jean-Michel Lavoie, Pharmacist and Director, Pharmaceutical Benefits at Sun Life Financial. "Canadians who stop taking their medicine could face reduced health and wellbeing and potentially otherwise unnecessary hospitalization."
Outlined in its paper titled "Take your pills - Gaining the benefits of improved drug adherence," Sun Life notes that medication non-adherence doesn't just affect the individual; every year it results collectivelyin:
  • A staggering $4 billion in costs to the country's health care system
  • Five per cent of Canadian hospital admissions
  • Five per cent of physician visits
It also contributes to faster disease progression.For employers, it can result in increased benefit costs, lost productivity, temporary disability and increased absenteeism.
"There's no question that all of these factors, as well as the health and wellbeing of the patient, could be positively affected if more people took their medication as prescribed," notes Mr. Lavoie.
And there are some groups that are more at risk than others.
"For example, depressed patients or those with other mental health conditions may be at risk to be non-adherent due to symptoms they are experiencing, whether the medication is for their mental health condition or for a concurrent chronic condition," adds Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier, registered psychologist and Director, Workplace Mental Health Group Benefits at Sun Life Financial.
Because the consequences of non-adherence can be high for some mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and depression, it can be very problematic from a health perspective. Many studies of non-adherence have identified a few of the reasons why some individuals with mental illness do not to take medication including, denying or being unaware of their illness, the side effects of prescribed medications and having a poor relationship with their mental health provider.
For example, studies4 of individuals with depression have reported that more than three out of five (62 per cent)5 of patients will relapse and that one of the greatest predictors of relapse when treatment is pharmacological is non-compliance with medication.
Other causes of medication non-adherence can include:
  • Chronic conditions and lifelong treatment
  • Complicated packaging, such as childproof caps among the elderly or those with arthritis
  • Conditions with no symptoms or symptom-free periods
  • Conditions that require the patient to take more than one drug
The paper also offers strategies on how to increase drug adherence and includes a "5 easy steps" fact sheet to promote the importance of taking medication as prescribed.
"Over the long term, increased drug adherence can provide a significant benefit to patients, employers and the Canadian health care system," says Mr. Lavoie. "Increasing engagement and education surrounding drug adherence will result in a reduction of many additional costs that your benefits plan and employees may be absorbing, as well as fewer hospital visits and slower disease progression.6 At the first signs of any medical concerns, be sure to contact your health care provider immediately."
1.     Adherence to long-term therapies, Evidence for Action, World Health Organization, 2003
2.     9000 Points of Care: Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare, April 2014
3.     ibid
4.     The True Cost of Noncompliance in Antidepressant Therapy, Matthew S. Keene, MD, Medscape Psychiatry. 2005;10 (2) © 2005 Medscape, LLC
5.     ibid
6.     Reducing the Health Care and Societal Cost of Disease: The role of Pharmaceuticals, The Conference Board of Canada, 2013
About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sun Life Financial Inc. and is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies.
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canadathe United States, the United KingdomIrelandHong Kong,the PhilippinesJapanIndonesiaIndiaChinaAustraliaSingaporeVietnamMalaysia and Bermuda. As of June 30, 2014 the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $684 billion. For more information please visit

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Canada

Monday, October 6, 2014

Nurses, patients at risk as full-time employment rates drop

MISSISSAUGA, OntarioOctober 6, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - As the number of nurses employed on a full-time basis remains alarmingly low in Ontario, the health care system should prepare itself for increased challenges associated with infection control, workplace stress, overall quality of patient care and overwhelmed nurses who feel as if they have no alternative but to leave the profession altogether. 
The Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO) issued this warning in the wake of the release of the College of Nurses of Ontario's Membership Statistics Highlights Report 2014, which provides detailed practice and employment information about Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) in Ontario.
"In 2014, the proportion of RPNs working full time in Ontario dropped for the second consecutive year to just 55.9 per cent," said Dianne Martin, Executive Director of RPNAO. "The numbers are even more troubling for new graduate RPNs, who report an overall full-time employment rate of just 26.1 per cent at their first year of graduation renewal. We know from experience that as full-time employment rates drop, the number of nurses forced to work multiple part-time jobs increases. Not only does this translate into significant challenges around infection control, with nurses moving from facility to facility, but also into issues around workplace stress and overall quality of life, all of which can have profound impacts on patient care."
The numbers of RNs and NPs employed on a full-time basis are also low at 66.5 per cent and 63.9 per cent respectively.
"Having many thousands of nurses working part-time jobs in multiple health care facilities is not optimal from any perspective and poses potential threats to infection control, patient care and quality of life for nurses," said Martin. "We continue to urge the health care sector and the provincial government to work together to help us address this lingering, deteriorating problem by implementing mechanisms that will allow more nurses to use their knowledge and skills in full-time employment settings."
About the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario

Founded in 1958, RPNAO is the voice of registered practical nursing in Ontario. There are approximately 35,000 RPNs working in Ontario, playing a vital role in the province's health care system. For more information about RPNAO, its mandate and how RPNs contribute to Ontario's health care system, please visit
SOURCE Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Saint Elizabeth ignites hope and happiness

7,000 trailblazers across Canada "pay it forward" with gestures of kindness

MARKHAM, Ontario, October 2, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new movement is taking shape in communities across Canada. It's not about raising money or awareness for a particular cause, but quite simply, spreading hope and happiness.

Right now, the trailblazers of Saint Elizabeth Health Care – nurses, personal support workers, rehab therapists and support staff who provide 11,000 home care visits every day – are finding for more ways to make people smile. And they are inviting you to join them.

"At Saint Elizabeth, we constantly hear about the 'little things' our staff do for people, and we realize these things are not so little at all," says Shirlee Sharkey, president and CEO. "We wanted to celebrate that energy and get even more of these special things happening, every day."

To get things started, Saint Elizabeth – a non-profit, charitable organization and one of the largest home care providers in Canada – launched its own hope and happiness challenge last week at the largest gathering of employees in the company's 100+ year history.

Close to 7,000 staff congregated at 14 local theaters, from Vancouver to Halifax, as well as online, where everyone was connected via space satellite for a live event.  The release of a new Elizabeth cartoon starred in the occasion.

Stories are already flooding in about how people are rising to the occasion and spreading hope and happiness in ways that are meaningful to them, including:

Buying a vase of flowers for a socially-isolated client on her birthday
Contributing to a fund for a young family involved in a serious accident
Designing and creating a device to help someone achieve greater comfort
Saint Elizabeth is inviting all Canadians to share their own stories and inspirations on social media using the hashtag #HopeAndHappiness. Plans are also in the works for a hope and happiness app. To learn more or join the movement, visit

About Saint Elizabeth Health Care

Saint Elizabeth is a national health care provider, trailblazer and social innovator with a powerful vision for the future. As a thriving non-profit company with a century of experience, Saint Elizabeth now employs over 7,000 people and visits 11,000 clients every single day. Whether we are powering the recovery of a single person, or fueling the thinking of an entire organization, Saint Elizabeth is firmly fixed on unleashing the power of individuals, families and their communities.

SOURCE Saint Elizabeth Health Care

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Community Support Services Integral to Keeping People at Home

October is Community Support Month
TORONTOOctober 1, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - As Community Support Month in Ontario kicks off, clients and care providers have one message to deliver: Home and Community Services are critical in helping family caregivers and supporting seniors and persons with physical disabilities to remain in their own homes. There is a need to increase these services to meet the current demands, with wait lists and the growing demand for services.
October is the time to celebrate Community Support across the Province.  It is our time to profile and thank the dedicated staff and volunteers of our community support agencies who deliver critical services to frail seniors, persons with disabilities or debilitating chronic diseases and their families.
Community Support agencies provide a wide variety of services such as attendant care, adult day programs, Meals on Wheels, respite for family caregivers, personal care and home support, transportation to medical appointments, home care and supportive housing programs just to name a few. 
The unsustainability of the growing health budget is a concern for government and Ontarians alike; by supporting a strong and robust home and community care sector, the government gets better value for the dollars they spend.Home and Community Support Services are the key to a sustainable healthcare system.
Community Support agencies are working with their partners; the Local Health Integration Networks, Community Care Access Centres  and other health care providers to integrate care for Ontarians. Their services help alleviate backlogs in emergency rooms and get people out of hospital beds and back home with programs that help them manage their chronic diseases, and reduce demand on long-term care homes and acute care health services. 
"The demand for community support continues to grow as our population ages.  For too long we have had a healthcare system that is reactionary and focused on institutional care. There is a time and place for that type of care but there is also a need for services that allow people to take ownership, celebrate their independence and be supported where they want to be in order to live the best lives they can" said Deborah Simon, CEO of the Ontario Community Support Association.
Here are the specific days for the month:
October 5 – 11
Meals on Wheels Week
October 8
Congregate Dining Day
October 12 – 18
Adult Day Program Week
October 15
Client Intervention and Assistance (CIA) Day
October 19 – 25
Supportive Housing Week
October 22
Attendant Services Day
October 23
Transportation Day
October 24
Respite Services Day
October 27
Friendly Visiting/Telephone Reassurance Day
October 28
Hospice Services Day
October 29
Home Help/Maintenance Services Day
October 30
Elderly Persons Centres Day
About OCSA
The Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) is the voice of the home and community support sector. Across the province each year, more than a million people receive home care and community support services such as in-home nursing, therapy and personal support, Meals on Wheels®, adult/Alzheimer day programs, transportation to medical appointments, respite for family caregivers, supportive housing and attendant services for persons with disabilities. These services are important, cost-effective measures that prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency room visits and premature institutionalization.
More information can be found at  
SOURCE Ontario Community Support Association