Strengthening Integrated Primary and Community Care for Residents of the South Island and Gulf Islands

VICTORIA – Island Health will be assuming responsibility for publicly funded home support service delivery on Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands this fall to ensure a consistent approach to implement government’s team-based primary and community care model across the health authority.

Home support helps people live independently in their home and be safe. For clients and their families, it makes a real difference in people’s lives by bringing care to their doorsteps and supporting them to live at home and in their communities longer and safely. Government is improving home support and is making significant investment to achieve that goal. It is essential to any team-based strategy to improve everyday health for people everywhere in BC.

“We have an immediate need to revitalize community health services across our entire health authority to improve access and service quality, and to meet government’s objectives of team-based primary and community care,” said Kathy MacNeil, Island Health President and CEO. “The benefits of team-based care – improved health outcomes and better patient and care provider experience – require us to take a different approach to care delivery than in the past.”

Island Health and Beacon Community Services, the non-profit, community organization that currently delivers health authority funded home support services on Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, have agreed to transition home support services to Island Health by October 31, 2019. Island Health’s current agreement with Beacon Community Services is scheduled to end this year, which provides a natural point to move forward with integrating home support services into the new, larger team-based model of care. The shift will also support consistent processes and service approaches across the health authority as Island Health revitalizes its community services.

On an average day, Beacon Community Services coordinates 3,000 home support visits to approximately 2,600 clients. Beginning November 1, 2019 Island Health will assume responsibility for scheduling and delivering home support services to these clients and those who begin receiving services from Beacon over the intervening months.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with Island Health to ensure a smooth and seamless transition,” said Bob Boulter, CEO of Beacon Community Services. “Island Health already directly delivers home support services on the Central and North Island. Shifting South Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands services in-house should support streamlining and enhancing the efficient use of resources, technologies and systems, as well as expansion of the community neighbourhood team model across the health authority.”

Boulter added that Beacon will continue serving the community through its many other charitable community services and programs, several which also support local seniors. Beacon will also continue to contract with Island Health for dementia housing, respite care and other seniors’ programs. 

“We want to thank Beacon Community Services for their 15 years of service in home support delivery,” said MacNeil. “They have been a valuable partner and we look forward to continuing our partnership in key areas of shared focus.”  

Beacon and Island Health have established collaborative teams to ensure clients and families will have a smooth and seamless transition to Island Health delivered home support services beginning this fall. Clients will continue to receive the same level of home support services they receive now as well as consistency in care workers as the new care model is implemented. 

Beacon Community Services staff who are affected by the change will be offered the opportunity to join the Island Health team. Island Health is committed to ensuring the transition of employees is respectful, that they continue to receive the fair and reasonable compensation and benefits they are entitled to, and the transition and employment for unionized employees complies with the requirements and provisions set out in their collective agreements.

To guide the process of moving home support services in-house, the Ministry of Health has appointed Lynn Stevenson, the ministry’s former associate deputy minister of health services. Stevenson will work with the health authority and monitor the transition. 

With the coming expansion of the community neighbourhood team model in the South Island, the delivery of home support services will be a part of Island Health’s larger, team-based primary and community care approach to home support delivery. Clients will benefit from a more responsive, client-centred service delivery redesign capable of meeting the real-time changing needs of increasingly frail clients. This will support improved health outcomes, increased home support visits, consistent care delivery and enhanced care experiences. 

This innovative, team-based approach will allow care providers to assist one another to respond to unpredictable, changing needs of clients, meet unscheduled client needs through frequent communication and ensure that changes in client conditions are recognized in a timely way, allowing early intervention. The community neighbourhood teams will also work in partnership with local family physicians to support clients and their families.

Clients and families with questions or concerns about the transition can contact Island Health’s Community Care Access line at 250-388 2273 or toll-free at 1-888-533-2273, or by email, homesupportquestions@viha.ca.

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Media Contacts:

Cheryl Bloxham
Media Relations
Island Health
Phone: 250.889.9156
Email: Cheryl.Bloxham@viha.ca

Kerry Readshaw                 
Director of Communications 
Beacon Community Services
Phone: 250.658.7233
Email: kreadshaw@beaconcs.ca