Enter the Lighthouse and you may notice a few new faces among the staff.

Within the past two months, the Lighthouse team has grown by nearly a dozen people and now includes an addictions counsellor, nurse practitioner, special care aid, and paramedics. The Lighthouse is a community-based organization that provides emergency shelter, supported living and affordable housing to those in need.

Over the next few weeks, we will share with you a series of stories about improving care and health through partnership and teamwork at the Lighthouse. These initiatives are underway thanks to the hard work of the Community Services Team (Team 1), which is part of our Ready Every Day: 90 Days of Innovation project.

Staff were hired as part of a six-month pilot, resulting from the Region’s 14 Day Challenge, to expand services. The goal of the pilot is to reduce the number of monthly admissions to hospital from this location.

“There were bits and pieces of this starting before the 14 Day Challenge,” says Donna McKnight, registered psychiatric nurse. “However, the resources weren’t available to expand. The 14 Day Challenge really augmented our services and took them to the next level. For example, with increased staff, we’re able to come together as an interdisciplinary team every single day to identify the clients we should be working with and to come up with care plans that can be followed in a consistent way.”

McKnight, a health region employee, started working part-time at the Lighthouse a year and a half ago.

“When I first came to the Lighthouse,” says McKnight, “I met someone who had diabetes. It was very difficult to get resources for this person, and he ended up getting a partial amputation. There was significant cost to the healthcare system, but more importantly, there was a significant cost to that person because it was difficult to get his needs met in a way that resulted in a good outcome.”

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is one of Saskatoon Health Region’s many partners.

Fortunately, one of McKnight’s current diabetic clients, who does not have a home and is living temporarily in the shelter, is having a much different experience. As a result of the pilot, the client now has access to a new team of care providers as well as access to expanded hours in the stabilization unit, which provides emergency shelter to clients under the influence of drugs and alcohol..

“This person was sick the other day, and because the stabilization unit is now open 24 hours a day seven days a week, we sent this client over there to rest and be monitored,” says McKnight, who is seeing how the pilot is making a difference in the health of Lighthouse clients.

Another service that has been expanded is the Mobile Outreach Van, which allows a team of two to provide transportation to homeless or struggling individuals to the Lighthouse and other support services The van’s daily hours have been expanded from six to 16, and it now runs from 8am to midnight.

“There are still challenges and gaps,” says Dave Thiessen, General Manager at the Lighthouse. “The pilot isn’t answering all of our problems, but it’s certainly starting. It feels like we’re moving toward solutions to provide better care.”

Watch for the next article in this series: Onsite Lighthouse paramedic decreases emergency room visits

See the www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/ReadyEveryDay website for more information about 90 Days of Innovation: Ready Every Day.