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Time! It’s about time!

What Healthy Albertans and Healthy Communities, Together means to me

Proactive preventative Healthcare means taking action to being healthy by eating the right foods, exercising, making time to play and connecting with others, taking moments of quiet to refresh and rejuvenate. Maintaining our health requires paying attention to it, we need to commit to it, but it also requires that we have the means to enable us to make the right choices. We need to decide we are valued and important and that we can stop and take the time. Time!! That is it! This sounds simple!  Right?

What happens when life throws you a wrench and your ability to manage this time is impacted by the need to work two jobs just to put “any” food on the table or when you do not have the means or time to make the right choices?  Or when you are managing a chronic health condition that requires more time?

This is when we become aware of the holes in how our supports and services are designed. As we plan for the future of healthcare I believe it is so important to recognize and to understand these holes. Care from the health perspective has a different meaning than care from the Human services perspective.

We have a health system that is designed to responds well to illness, but I do not feel we currently have a whole system that truly supports or promotes wellness.

Promoting Wellness is bigger than Alberta Health or Alberta Health Services. This means that we all need to work together to achieve the results of “Healthy Albertans Healthy Communities, Together.”

Governments at all levels need to work together to ensure that they are working most effectively and efficiently to enable a shift to care in the community. We need to define what proactive care in the community means. Are we all talking the same language?

“Healthy Albertan, Healthy Communities, Together” involves our communities. Are all individuals supported to enable them the needed time to commit to their health. Can everyone regardless of physical, mental ability, and financial means access community programs and initiatives? How can things shift or what supports can be provided at a community level to promote healthy participation for everyone. This involves working in partnership to achieve the results that meets the needs of all Albertans. Communities need to look at access and inclusion from the lens of seniors or persons with disabilities and understand that access has a different meaning than inclusion.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” involves families getting the support and services they need so they can support the development of their children and have the time to make healthy decisions. Can all families access quality care and programing for their young children? How are Early Childcare/Education programs designed to build the capacity of families in caring for their children? It really does take a village to raise a “healthy” child especially if that child and family requires additional care/support due to poverty or from managing a chronic health conditions or both.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” needs to involve working in partnership with schools to ensure that children from a very young age and at any age receive the education and proactive supports and services they need to ensure their development and learning. This needs to involve a more wrap around model versus expecting teachers/schools to do it all. How can Health services become better integrated into our schools to promote proactive support and services rather than treatment/consultative models of care? It is time to increase investments into creating school based collaborative teams of educators and health professionals to work together in partnership to proactively meet the learning, physical and mental health needs of all children and youth.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” needs to involve working in partnership with employers and employees to ensure promoting healthy environments. This may mean shifting how the workday looks or allowing a level of flexibility to manage the time needed to manage chronic health conditions or supporting a healthier work life balance? Our world has changed and the ability for many to take time off work to visit the doctor or care for family can have detrimental affects to people’s ability to pay their bills. This makes it difficult for Albertans to choose health over a paycheque. I think the current demand on Emergency services is a direct result of this conflict of time. Again it is about time!

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” requires a shift of how and when people can assess their primary care physician and what services are available. Expanding primary care services outside of Monday to Friday 9:00 – 5:00 pm and including supports such as Practical nursing, nutrition support, and counselling/coaching would reduce the need for referral to more expensive care and allow for timely access to the most appropriate care when needed. Not to mention the value and importance of building a trusting relationship with your primary care professionals.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” needs to include technology. Technology has shifted our lives and has become more integrated into our everyday functioning. This has a huge impact on how we communicate and how fast we can communicate and what we can communicate. Persons/Patients who have a chronic condition have valuable knowledge into how technology can be used more effectively to manage their care. Do persons/patients need to always be physically present with their physician to discuss medication changes or emergent issues? Exploring ways for patients to communicate differently with their doctor outside of the examination room by creating a collaborative way of working together and sharing of information. It values the patient’s time and knowledge and expertise in supporting their own condition(s). The use of the telephone, email, text or chat lines to support patient questions and concerns needs to also be examined to maximize both the doctors and persons/patients time in managing chronic conditions.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” requires a paradigm shift in Healthcare to enable a more person centred approach to care and treatment. This means that Albertans need access to their health records. Physicians and Health care professionals need to support persons/ patients to participate in their care by sharing information, valuing and listening to what is important and understanding each person/patient strengths as well as supporting their weaknesses. In doing this it creates an environment for trust. This trust is vital to working together in making decisions, ensuring safety and creating and following through with the best care plans. It is time for Persons/Patients and Health professionals to build collaborative relationships with these goals in mind.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” requires that when Albertans need acute care that they can access it in a timely manner. We will always require hospitals but we need to re-think how we deliver acute care to seniors or persons with Chronic conditions. Do all persons/patients need to be in the hospital? How can services such as home care and paramedic care and technology be utilized and maximized to support acute care needs closer to home? Involve people in creating the best service to meet their needs. There are some pretty innovative things happening and these ideas need to be shared and given attention and time to grow.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” requires providing care holistically. Hospitals need to look at how their physical/psychosocial environments support wellness. Physical and psychosocial environments need to shift to better support persons/patients’ need for physical activity, sleep and positive social interaction to prevent deterioration and improve recovery time.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” requires hospitals, health care professionals and patients and families to consistently embrace and reflect on the principles of Family Centred care. To support growth both as individuals and as an organization in improving the patient experience. This can only happen through partnering and collaborating both at bedside and at a policy level.

“Healthy Albertans, Healthy Communities, Together” is not just a vision for healthcare. It needs to be a mission and a focus in a much broader way for it to have an impact on our health care system and ultimately on our individual health. It is time!