About 97% of Québec seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 live at home. According to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, the figure drops to 87% for seniors aged 75 to 84. Sooner or later, the question of whether to remain at home or move into a retirement residence arises. The decision, which is among the most difficult to make, is often poorly weighed. Indeed, one in three seniors is admitted to a supervised care facility too early.

One in three seniors is admitted to a supervised care facility too early.

To help seniors, their loved ones and health professionals make the right choice, Dr. France Légaré, family physician and researcher at the VITAM sustainable health research centre at Université Laval, and her team developed and implemented a person-centred decision-making tool and training program for care teams. Both innovations are currently in use across the province and have proven all the more relevant in the current pandemic, which has highlighted the pros and cons of different senior communities.

The project got underway in 2006, when the Centre de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS) de la Vieille-Capitale in Québec asked Dr. Légaré to create better tools for the workers who support seniors. In partnership with managers, home care teams, seniors and their loved ones in Québec and Edmonton, she designed a training program on shared decision-making and a tool that proposes steps and questions to guide the choice of living environment.

Between 2015 and 2019, two randomized clinical trials were conducted in 32 CSSS across Québec: 431 home care workers followed training on shared decision-making and 1 098 seniors and their loved ones benefitted from the program.

In 2018, the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) de la Capitale-Nationale contacted Dr. Légaré to provide training to home care teams and put the innovation into practice in their daily work. The CIUSSS de l’Estrie is currently adapting the tool for seniors who have been discharged from the hospital.

France Légaré hopes that her efforts will enable more and more Quebecers to make the best-informed choices when it comes to their living situations.