Community paramedicine (CP) in Ontario – Ontario’s health care system is rapidly evolving and bringing new ways to deliver care from hospitals to people’s home and the community. Paramedics are highly trained individuals who specialize in pre-hospital care and work on frontlines of Canadian healthcare system.
Healthcare services within the community can be fragmented, resulting in incoordination and uneven distribution within the province. As a result, patients and caregivers experience difficulties in supporting the community when they need them the most.
Understanding the need of the hour, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care initiated pilot programs across Ontario at the beginning of the year 2014.
What is Community Paramedicine?
A uniquely designed program where paramedics apply their skills and training in the community outside of their traditional emergency response role. Working in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, they connect patients needed health and community services.
The initial focus of this program was to reduce the burden on 911 ambulance services, but with time the service has evolved to include home visits and monitoring patients with complex needs.
How does CP benefits community?
Apart from adding value to local healthcare, CP consists of highly trained professionals who can contribute to overall healthcare with:
- Patients have increased access to healthcare in their homes as Paramedics identify patients and connect to appropriate resources or collaborate with other professionals for the best care.
- Emergency medical services benefit through reduced 911 calls as patients are connected to care proactively.
- Hospitals are benefitted through reduced emergency departments visits, and burdened is lessened on the professionals.
- Paramedics involved in CP are benefitted from an expanded role that leads to job satisfaction and career growth.
How do Community Paramedics operate?
Community paramedicine program delivery is based on the model of care and varies depending on the local needs. In non-traditional environments, paramedics are expected to apply competencies through collaborative practice. Examples of models drawn from the pilot programs:
Assessment and Referral
- Responding to frequent 911 callers to assessment and refer them to home care services, mobile mental health response teams and collaborative care teams.
- Community Referrals by EMS (CEMS) is a specific model that has been adopted by many Paramedic Services providers.
In these clinics, community paramedics provide education about healthy living and basic medical support such as flu shots, blood pressure and blood glucose check and other services.
- In-person and virtual home visits to provide care and monitor seniors and other patients at risk of losing their independence to live at home. An integrated model where paramedics work closely with health care partners and primary care teams of professionals.
- Other models also involve scheduling home visits with patients in the community during downtime between 911 calls.
The focus of community paramedicine is to improve quality of life, reduce crisis requiring 911 response and collaboration with family doctors to reduce clinic visits.
Understanding the current patient needs, the Ontario government is investing up to $5 million for Long-Term Care program in communities across the province.
During the launch of the program, Minister Fullerton emphasized on the importance of community paramedics, “This program is an excellent example of our government collaborating with partners across the health care system, and we are grateful for these paramedicine practitioners that will allow us to better serve our seniors.”
Apart from education and training as Primary Care Paramedic, employers list following as job requirements:
- Good Communication Skills, both written and verbal
- Ability to work independently
- Current First Aid and CPR Certificate
- Non-Violent Crisis Intervention training
- Experience working with mentally ill clients and/or substance abusers preferred
- Suicide ASIST and Mental Health First Aid training are considered an asset
- Experience working with the homeless population preferred
For more information regarding careers within Paramedic Services, and discuss your training options, talk to our experts.