Hills of Headwaters Collaborative applying to become Ontario Health Team

July 25, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Julia Lloyd

On July 18 the Ministry of Health sent notification to the Hills of Headwaters Collaborative (HOHC) that they are one of 31 teams selected to proceed to the next step in potentially becoming an Ontario Health Team (OHT). 

The Collaborative now have to proceed to the full application stage, which is due by Oct. 9. From there, the OHTs will be chosen. 

“The Minister of Health Christine Elliott, along with local MPP Sylvia Jones, visited Dufferin County on March 1 of this year to learn more about the integrated work underway in Dufferin-Caledon.” Explained Jennifer Hamilton, senior communications and stakeholder engagement partner for Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC). ”Since then, local leaders, called the Hills of Headwaters Collaborative, working together with Dufferin and Caledon family physicians, as well as community partners, to advance plans to improve care integration and population health in our region.” 

Last year, on February 26, Minister Elliott announced the significant restructuring of Ontario’s heath care system, integrating provincial agencies and specialized provincial programs into a single agency – Ontario Health. The move was descrived as a new way of organizing and delivering services for communities across Ontario. 

In May of this year, HOHC submitted a readiness assessment, the first step in the application process to be considered an OHT. 

“If successful, I would say that Dufferin-Caledon would have an integrated system of care where patients, their families and caregivers experience all the health and social service providers as one team,” explained Stacey Daub, President and Chief Executive Officer of HHCC. 

Some people in the community have been under the impression this collaborative is being led by the local hospital, but it is not. All partners in the collaborative share the same amount of responsibility. 

“In addition to our community working on the submission together, we have one of  the ground community groups working on making improvements focused on mental health, palliative care and for other populations who have a complex health and social service needs,” continued Daub. 

But, according to Daub, they already have a plan to compete, with leadership across the community advancing the work to contribute to the application. There are currently 25 lead partners within the collaborative. 

Minister Elliott made a comment to Daub during her visit in February, saying how impressed she was with the HOHC, which has already been established amongst some Dufferin-Caledon health agencies. 

Margaret Paan, Executive Director at Bethell Hospice in Caledon, is one of the partners in the collaborative and is really excited for this opportunity. She believes this is a good decision made by the provincial government. 

And, since the community in Dufferin-Caledon have already been working collectively, they aren’t facing as many roadblocks as other regions who want to apply to be an OHT. 

“We are really excited about this opportunity to say to people, who have experienced our care, whether here at Bethell Hospice, the hospital or at long-term care facilities, and actually ask what does good care look like, what is important to you and then, how can we do it together,” said Paan. 

The one issue facing the collaborative that needs to be sorted before they hand in the final application is the communication aspect of all the health centres. 

Paan explained that it is currently being worked on. Paan hopes HOHC will hold routine and frequent meetings throughout the process. 

There are also subgroups to this collaborative, said Paan. The subgroups are another level underneath the collaborative that usually surrounds a specific issue many of the collaborative partners specialize in.  

“Obviously, here at Bethell the subgroup that is focused on palliative care is where they will be more intimately involved. There is also a group looking at mental health,” explained Paan. 

Dufferin Area Family Health Team will be another health centre working in the collaborative. 

The organization’s Executive Director Lianne Barbour said the biggest difference for Dufferin-Caledon moving forward is that the new collaborative will have funding for all different health services and providers given that it’s coming through one single agency.

“Our next step is really working on continuing what we are doing already,” said Barbour. “Since we already have some tangible work happening to service patience around palliative, end of life care and mental health services. We are going to continue to advance those subgroups but we are also looking into advancing how we can better serve our patients that are fragile or complex.”

As October begins to creep up, HOHC have made decisions to have physicians involved in co-designing the model. They have also made a commitment to consult with their patience. 

The Hills of Headwater Collaborative has until Oct. 9 to complete the final application that will decide whether or not they will be chosen as an Ontario Health Team. 

“So we are all in our respective organizations and we are now working with our patients to make sure that they too are informed, and at the table and able to give input while we complete the final application,” said Barbour. 

The partners of the collaborative are: Headwaters Health Care Centre, Dufferin Oaks, County of Dufferin, Central West Local Health integration Network, Dufferin Area Family Health team, Home and Community Care, Community Mental Health and Addictions Peel, Alzheimer’s Society, Bethel Hospice, Family Transition Place, Services and Housing in the Province, Caledon Community Services, Wellington Dufferin Public Health, Dufferin Family and Community Services and lastly, Dufferin Paramedic Services. 

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