Excellent Care for All

eShift – Using Technology To Improve Access To Care

Health Care Challenge

A shortage of community nurses often leaves family members responsible for delivering 24-hour care to loved ones with terminal illness or complex medical conditions. This shortage presents a significant burden for care-givers who are forced to juggle their own care needs with those of a sick relative. 

Terry Blackman’s wife Vicki was in the end stages of liver failure. “There were times when I would get very tired,” said Blackman who was getting up several hours during the night in addition to full-time care-giving during the daytime hours.

Real Change In Action

eShift is an innovative mobile tool that connects up to four enhanced-skill personal support workers (ePSWs) working overnight shifts in the homes of clients with a remote registered nurse (RNs) via a web-enabled iPhone. ePSWs and nurses use the device to share information securely through a web portal. The software developed for the project is intuitive and includes highly customizable clinical decision support tools, a reference library, chat and phone capability and supplies ordering features.

The program was originally conceived to help the families of medically fragile children, but has been expanded to include the families of palliative care patients as well.

Funding from the South West Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN), to the South West Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) assisted in expanding this innovative program to use technology to deliver more services – without increasing costs.  Now, enhanced-skill personal support workers can stay at the bedside of patients overnight and, at the same time, be connected to a nurse in a remote location. ePSWs become the hands, eyes and ears for the nurse, they are able to perform an assessment and communicate vital health care information, allowing one RN to care for four patients at a time.

Better Quality Care

Thanks to an innovative use of technology, more adults and children living with terminal illness or complex medical conditions are receiving better quality care in the home. “I think it is the most exciting program that I have ever led in 40 years of nursing,” says Charlotte Koso, the eShift Program Director from CarePartners. “It has all of the efficiencies of a hospital without the overhead.”

Blackman was relieved to have the help he needed to keep Vicky at home and out of a hospital during her final days. “eShift made a huge difference, a huge difference,” said Blackman. “My wife received good service at night and I was able to provide better support during the day because I was well rested.”

“We need to continue to find new and better ways to care for this vulnerable population,” said Gordon Milak, a senior director with the South West CCAC. “Without innovations such as eShift to care for clients at home - especially overnight - we would see an increased reliance on the ER or even a return to hospital. That isn’t the best solution for many clients and it’s not sustainable as a health system.”

There are plans to expand eShift in southwestern Ontario and to share the lessons from this project across the province.

Learn more about eShift from the Southwest LHIN and/or CarePartners.

Contact person :
Charlotte Koso, eShift Program Director
Tel.: 289-290-2602 ext. 103

For More Information

Call ServiceOntario, Infoline at 1-866-532-3161
In Toronto, 416-314-5518
TTY 1-800-387-5559
In Toronto, TTY 416-327-4282
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