Throne speech promises seniors house calls, anti-bullying measures

The government says it will introduce house calls for seniors, new anti-bullying measures, boost training seats for apprenticeships and twin more kilometres of highway.

Some Saskatchewan's seniors who may remember the era of doctors making house calls could soon see a return of the practice.

The Throne speech that kicked off the new session of the legislature Wednesday included the government's plans for the next few weeks, including introducing a new program to help some seniors with complex health issues.

Some of these seniors will receive house calls from doctors, nurse practitioners and other health care provides.

Cam Broten, the leader of the NDP, is unimpressed by the government's plan to do more house calls for seniors.

"House calls have been going on in Saskatchewan for decades and decades," said the leader of the opposition. "There's a fee code for physicians to do house calls. If house calls aren't occurring it's because this government doesn't have enough physicians to serve the people of the province."

The government says the service isn't being used because there's not enough incentive for doctors, and when the service is used, the majority of calls are to nursing homes. 

"Especially for certain seniors — that health care providers have identified [they] can avoid being hospitalized or being admitted to long-term care if they can receive better home care," said Premier Brad Wall. 

The government also says it wants to take some pressure off the province's packed emergency rooms. 

The province wants to use an Ontario model called "hot-spotting" at emergency rooms in Regina and Saskatoon, which will provide more services to help "high-risk, high-use" patients who repeatedly show up in emergency rooms.

Wall says a handful of patients use emergency services hundreds of times a year. 

"If we were properly meeting their needs in ER the first time and providing them — whether it's mental health care or whether it's addictions treatment — if we were able to do that, it's going to just reduce the number of visits," said Wall. 

But Broten says in order to put this model in place, other services require a boost first. 

"What's needed though are the supports and the other programs in place to stop that recurrence on a very regular basis," he said. "So that's why we need better investments in mental health care."

The government says it will also introduce new anti-bullying measures, boost training seats for apprenticeships and twin more kilometres of highway.


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