Frail, elderly patients discharged from the hospital in northeastern Ontario will now have a health "navigator" to help them live at home.

The Northeast Local Health Integration Network, a government body responsible for distributing health care dollars in the region, said it is hiring people to help the frail and elderly connect with community services they need. The navigators will be based out of hospitals in Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins.

"We’ve created more capacity in community by investing in many new programs," said Louise Paquette, CEO of the North East LHIN, in a press release issued Thursday.

"The navigator will help make sure that frail elderly patients in hospital are linked with existing services so that they can be supported after discharge."

Navigators work with local Red Cross

Paquette explained that seniors do better recuperating at home — a place where most seniors want to be.

"We also know that the longer they stay in hospital the more danger they are put in for risk of infection, social isolation and loss of mobility," she said.

The navigators will work directly with the local Red Cross. The patient-focused role of the navigators is part of the LHIN’s shift to deliver more services in the community and outside of institutions.

In about 20 years, more than 30 per cent of the north’s population will be in its senior years "and we need to adopt better ways to care for our aging population," Paquette said.

The navigators will connect the work of 70 community support service providers to seniors, who may need their assistance — from Meals on Wheels to Assisted Living.