Like many communities around BC, the South Okanagan region has faced significant challenges in meeting the medical needs of seniors in residential care. A significant reason for this trend is that while the number of seniors continues to grow, the number of physicians with practices that focus on residential care is declining.
The physicians of the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Division of Family Practice decided to take an innovative approach to ensuring these seniors get the best patient care. With funding support from the Ministry of Health and BC Divisions Innovation Funding (and later by the General Practice Services Committee), the physician team received funding to become one of five prototypes to build and put in a place a plan to enhance care for seniors in residential care. Over three years, they have made significant strides. The number of proactive physician visits to patients in the facilities has gone up significantly, while the number of emergency department visits has dropped. And, physician participation in patient care conferences has increased dramatically.