Vancouver Coastal Health's (VCH) Short Term Assessment and Treatment (STAT) Centre is helping seniors in Vancouver live more independently in the community.
Located at the University of British Columbia Hospital (UBCH), this unique and innovative program is the only one of its kind in B.C. It uses a holistic approach and community connections to provide care for seniors experiencing health changes that interfere with their ability to live independently.
“We offer medical and psycho-social support to help seniors to continue living independently at home and to prevent emergency department visits and acute hospital admissions," explains Dr. Marla Gordon, Medical Director at the STAT Centre. “It's about maximizing their health and independence."
The importance of helping seniors to continue to live independently is hard to overstate. The COVID-19 pandemic has made some seniors more vulnerable and isolated than ever. The STAT Centre addresses this vulnerability by working in partnership with clients to reach the goals they have for themselves, whether that is improved mobility or feeling safe and secure at home.
To support the range of needs seniors experience, the STAT Centre offers a medical day program and an in-patient option that allows for people to stay at the facility for up to 30 days. Staff find out what is most important to their clients, and the inter-disciplinary team — which includes physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, dieticians, social workers and total support staff — address issues that reduce the client's quality of life.
Christine Dobbelsteyn is one of the managers at the STAT Centre and says she often hears from seniors that the most important thing for them is being able to get to the community centre to play bridge with their friends.
“We tailor their care plan to enhance their mobility and coordinate services, such as the HandyDART, to transport them to the community centre," she says. “That's the level of focus and service we strive for."
“When a client comes in, most of the appointments they need are organized on-site," Marla says. “It's like a one-stop shop for assessment and treatment, including expedited access to specialists, diagnostic or lab appointments."
Marina Stanojevic's mother attends the medical day program and, as her mother's main caregiver, she knows how valuable this holistic approach is.
“I've spent so much time trying to match different caregivers and arrange appointments, but the STAT Centre takes care of her as a whole person, including her mental wellbeing" she says. “This kind of program is a no-brainer for us."
Her mother, Senka Stanojevic, has been attending the program since May 2021, and Marina has noticed a vast improvement in her mother's mood as well as her physical health.
“She has more energy and is getting up and dressed to go out. She feels more hopeful," says Marina. “Going to the program really gets her day going."
A referral from a physician or case manager is required for a client to be admitted to the STAT Centre, but the centre often receives phone calls from neighbours, family members or even members of the general public who are concerned about a senior.
“We call this our open referral system," Marla says. “We open up a line of communication and make recommendations based on the senior's situation or connect them with a service in the community."
The importance of helping seniors remain at home isn't lost on the community in Vancouver – part of the STAT Centre's successful approach is rooted in community partnerships. For example, the Vancouver Firefighters Charities recently committed $60,000 over the next five years to continue their Lifelines for Seniors Program – a partnership with the STAT Centre that provides access to equipment and support to help keep seniors safe at home.
“Countless times Vancouver firefighters have responded to the homes of isolated seniors, only to find that their need for help has been delayed due to their incapacitation, such as a fall or other health ailment," explains James Docherty, Executive Director, Vancouver Firefighters Charities. “We believe that no senior should ever be placed in such a vulnerable position and are grateful for our partnership with VCH to provide better quality of life for seniors."
Christine and Marla value these partnerships and recognize an important part of helping seniors to be independent is to stay connected to the community.
“If we see that a client could also benefit from the Lifelines program, a meal service, home support, etc., we are happy to help make that connection," says Christine. “We just really want people to be supported to stay in their homes and to be able to continue doing the things that matter to them.
Thank you to the STAT Centre team for your passion and inclusive community approach towards senior's care.