Perley Health Improving Care for Seniors and Veterans

Story by Peter McKinnon

Two initiatives underway at Perley Health are helping transform care for Veterans and Seniors across Canada. At the core of both initiatives is frailty: an increasingly recognized and studied condition of reduced function and health. A person who is frail is less able to cope with minor stresses and is more likely to suffer rapid and dramatic changes in health. The risk of frailty increases with age, although not all older people are frail.

“Frailty presents an existential challenge to medicine’s traditional approach of treating one disease or condition at a time,” says Dr. Benoît Robert, Chief Medical Officer at Perley Health. “The more frail a person is, the less likely they are to recover from illness or injury, and the more likely it is that a particular treatment or intervention will have a negative impact on their quality of life.”

In 2019, Perley Health developed and began to implement an innovative approach to creating resident care plans. SeeMe®: Understanding frailty together is a comprehensive framework that considers frailty and prioritizes each resident’s values, preferences and desired lifestyle. Under SeeMe®, the resident, family members and members of the care team—including a physician—meet to develop a care plan. The meeting often involves challenging conversations about the relationship between frailty, medical intervention and quality of life.

A study published in the Canadian Geriatrics Journal last year demonstrates the benefits of SeeMe®. The study found that SeeMe® resulted in high satisfaction levels among nurses, physicians and the families of long-term care (LTC) residents. Furthermore, SeeMe® residents and their families were more likely to choose less-invasive interventions to preserve both health and quality of life. Many, for instance, chose to decline cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and transfers to hospital.

The study was completed by the Centre of Excellence in Frailty-Informed Care™ (CoE), another Perley Health initiative. Established in 2019, the CoE conducts and shares practical research into the care of people living with frailty. The number of CoE studies published in peer-reviewed journals is steadily increasing,

The CoE is made possible by donations to the Perley Health Foundation. The Foundation’s current campaign—Answering the Call—has raised more than $9 million to date. Clearly, the campaign’s message of hope, backed by a solid plan, resonates with the community. Donors believe that Veterans and Seniors deserve to live life to the fullest, in comfort and with dignity. And they recognize that the care protocols designed and validated at Perley Health can also improve the lives of Seniors and Veterans across Canada.

Perley Health — formerly The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre — is home to 450 people in long-term care, including a 20-bed Specialized Behaviour Support Unit for people living with dementia and a 34-bed Convalescent Care Unit. The Perley, as it’s popularly known, also rents independent-living apartments to approximately 200 Seniors and Veterans, and provides respite care, along with an adult day program.

Photo to follow

Caption: In 2019, Perley Health developed SeeMe®, a comprehensive framework that prioritizes each resident’s values, preferences and desired lifestyle, that could include time to stop and smell the flowers.  Donors to The Answering the Call campaign support these innovative care protocols to improve the lives of Seniors and Veterans across Canada.