Where would you rather sleep tonight—
in a hospital bed or in your own bed?
For most of us, that answer is home.
With that in mind, Alberta Health
Services has been creating innovative
programs to treat and monitor more
patients at home. Doing so frees up
hospital beds, reduces emergency
department loads, and even cuts the
number of ambulance trips. More
importantly, it can improve outcomes for
many patients. We often heal better (and
faster) when we can avoid the hospital.
Here are four programs delivering
home-based care to Albertans who might
otherwise end up in hospital.
Hospital at Home
A child’s cancer diagnosis disrupts a
family’s entire world. Frequent clinic
visits and extended hospital stays make
their experience even more challenging.
“We wanted to ease the cancer journey
for our patients and their families,”
says Dr. Lucie Lafay-Cousin, pediatric
oncologist at the Alberta Children’s
Hospital in Calgary. One clear pathway
to this, she says, was to reduce trips
to the hospital. “Whatever we do in
an outpatient setting, can we do it at
The result was Hospital at Home
(H@H), the first service of its kind
in Canada. Instead of making trips
into a clinic, which can take several
hours, patients receive some of their
chemotherapy medications and
procedures at home—in as little as five
to 45 minutes.
In addition to saving time, home visits
lessen the trauma for everyone involved.
“In the clinic, [my son] is much more
anxious and agitated and gets much
more upset,” says one mother. “Whereas
here, he stays quite a bit calmer.”
More recently, H@H has looked at
ways to avoid hospital admissions.
Normally, some young patients
are admitted to hospital after their
chemotherapy for intravenous
hydration. “That can keep them in
hospital for three, four, five days,” Lafay-
Cousin says. Now they can go home
right after treatment with a hydration
An ongoing H@H research project is
already showing patients benefit, says
Lafay-Cousin. “Patients can be less
nauseated at home. We’re seeing better
symptom control and sleeping patterns.”
Complex Care Hub
Elsie Smith has been in and out of
hospital for the past three years. In July
2018, she was admitted yet again to
Calgary’s Rockyview General Hospital.
This time, however, she was given an
unexpected option. “They talked to me
care at home
Home is where the health is
WRITTEN BY SCOTT ROLLANS
Nyah Green receives treatment at home
from nurse Shelaine Semmons through the
Photo by Jenna McMurray