Bringing Virtual Care to Long-Term Care Homes in Ontario

By: Mylee Macdonald, Nurse Manager, King City Lodge and Kaitlyn Bader, Senior Implementation Specialist, Think Research

Primary care doctors play a vital role in the health of long-term care residents. They build relationships with the staff and residents, they know their medical history and, importantly, they come to the home so residents don’t have to travel out to a clinic which can cause anxiety and stress. 

But with these visits there is always a degree of infection risk — and that has become particularly concerning during COVID-19. Physicians typically see many patients in a number of different settings, including hospitals. As they travel between clinics and other long-term care homes, the risk of spreading any kind of virus increases. 

It quickly became evident in this pandemic that a virtual solution was absolutely necessary.

It’s been a shift for everyone to change how we bring physician care to residents. Remote care options have long been available but hadn’t become part of the everyday workflow for long-term care.

The VirtualCare program has allowed us to continue to offer the high-level of care we want for our residents by bringing in our doctors to care for residents without the physician ever having to actually step foot in our home. We can provide safe and effective virtual visits between physicians and residents. We can help contain the spread of COVID-19. 

We can protect our community at King City Lodge. 

We use a combination of voice and video to facilitate the interaction between the physician and the residents. There are certainly still occasions when a resident needs to be seen in-person but virtual care has become a vital part of life in these difficult and uncertain times for long-term care homes. 

From the hospital or their home, our physicians can easily set up the program on their computer, book appointments and click in and out of visits with residents to complete their rounds. All of the patient information is present within the platform, ensuring a seamless and accessible workflow.

At our home, the safety of patients and staff is our number one priority. To protect everyone at King City Lodge, and as we prepare for a possible second wave of infection in the fall, we are constantly looking at how we can improve our care, reduce infection risk and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Virtual care is an important part of that plan.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our home has been COVID-free — none of our staff or residents have tested positive — and we hope to keep it this way.  

VirtualCare has provided a safer and more efficient way to conduct appointments. With this tool, we have cut down the time spent on administrative tasks and on travel, but increased the number of patients we can see. It’s not only beneficial for our residents, but for our team as well.

VirtualCare is easy and convenient, and it drastically reduces the potential of COVID-19 entering our home. 

In a post-pandemic world, we can see the possibility of using VirtualCare to provide more of a continuum of care for residents. Even when the pandemic ends, there is always a risk when taking patients into a hospital setting if they are immunocompromised or have other underlying health conditions. Through this program, physicians can safely see our residents and provide them with the care they need, when they need it. 

Click here to find out more about the program or to register your home for free.