OHT-N launches strategic plan for health and wellness priorities

In Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland

The Ontario Health Team of Northumberland has launched its inaugural strategic plan for health and well-being priorities.

Covering a four-year span (including the locally led cross-sector consultation that helped shape it), the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan seeks to bring together patients, caregivers, community members, and health-care and community-service providers around a Northumberland-first approach with the three common cross-sector areas of service that emerged.

1 – Improving access to primary and specialty care and services in our region

2 – Supporting older adults with complex conditions in living and aging well at home

3 – Improving access and services for those who have mental-health and addiction needs.

Five supporting pillars were also identified to ensure Northumberland is well positioned to drive this work forward.

1 – Advocating together and co-ordinating county-wide solutions

2 – Helping people navigate the system to find the care and support they need

3 – Empowering the community of health and well-being supporters

4 – Creating safe spaces for whole-person care and support where everyone is welcome

5 – Creating the building blocks for a robust OHT-N

Northumberland Family Heath Team Executive Director (and OHT-N Co-chair) Adrienne Bell-Smith described the guiding vision as “many boats, one light.”

We’ve been inspired by and very grateful to the hundreds of individuals and organizations that accepted the OHT-N’s invitation to share, discuss and gather data as part of this process to identify what that light (or lights) should be,” Bell-Smith added.

After proving we could work together very effectively since forming the OHT-N in 2020, and getting reassurance from the province that the OHT-N model is here to stay, it has been exciting to now set our future together.”

Bell-Smith described the consultation that led up to the strategic plan.

Led by a Community Engagement Team of local stakeholders, we worked from March through November, using a mix of surveys, focus groups and stakeholder interviews,” she said.

To begin, we logged more than 500 touch points with patients, caregivers, community members, health-care and community-service providers. Five Strategy Hives with over 170 participants followed, providing opportunities to dive deeper into the challenges and opportunities around the specific themes that emerged.”

In addition to learning through experience and individual feedback, a review of data unique to our region formed the other part of our work,” added Community Care Northumberland Chief Executive Officer (and OHT-N Co-chair) Trish Baird.

Population data, housing and homelessness statistics, primary-care access data, local Emergency Room Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale data, Alternative Level of Care statistics, information on use of community paramedicine, long-term-care wait-list statistics and mental-health service data and needs are just some of the data points reviewed.”

Formed in 2019 as one of the province’s first OHTs (there are now more than 50), the OHT-N partners have a long list of achievements. These include mounting a successful COVID-19 response, opening a Rural Outreach Clinic in Colborne, working with Northumberland Paramedics to launch a community paramedicine program for older adults living with complex conditions in rural areas and (with Community Care Northumberland) started recruitment and training for volunteers who will form the region’s first Volunteer Peer Support Program assisting older adults living with complex conditions.

In addition to its local focus, one of the distinguishing characteristics of the new OT model is its commitment to equal and authentic patient and caregiver partnership. In addition to representatives from area health-care and community-service agencies, local patient and caregiver partners have been at the OHT-N table from the outset – and continue to play a direct role in advancing OHT-N priorities.

As the Interim Chair of the OHT-N’s Experience Partner Council and a member of the Community Engagement Team for this Strategic Plan, it has been rewarding and very interesting to have a voice in local planning for health and well-being priority setting,” Lisa van der Vinne commented.

We have much work to do to engage and empower patient and caregiver partners around the core areas of primary care, support for seniors, and mental health and addictions, but we have strong working relationships in place and – most important – a common will to move forward. It is an exciting time to be part of this work in Northumberland.”

With this Strategic Plan, the OHT-N will built on what has worked, embark on new areas of focus recommended by the communities served, and look for more opportunities to bring the intentions of the locally-drive OHT model to life.

You can view the Strategic Plan and the related document Strategic Plan: Data and Outputs Report at OHTNorthumberland.ca

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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