A website linking people with Personal Care Home (PCH) vacancies is ready for development.

In June, members of the Community Strategies team of 90 Days of Innovation: Ready Every Day began exploring the idea of launching a web-based searchable directory of PCHs in Saskatoon Health Region after it was suggested by Region staff, PCH operators, patients and their families.

“The PCH operators told us they have many vacancies in their homes– mostly because they have trouble connecting to clients,” said Albert Matthies, a member of the Community Strategies team. “Patients and families told us the current process, which involves cold calls to homes listed in a 20-page paper directory, can be intimidating and overwhelming.”

The proposed website has three goals – to allow clients and their families an easier time to find a PCH that meets their needs, and provide ways to help them in their search, to build awareness of the resources that are available either locally or provincially, and to allow the care home operators a means of changing and updating information like vacancies and contact information.

The Region has been meeting regularly with PCH operators to talk about the website, and the operators have submitted their “must-have” lists and their thoughts on what the website should look like, Matthies noted. Right now, they’re working on compiling current information from all PCHs in the Region to arrange for secure access to the site, so operators can update the information about their PCH themselves.

Personal Care Homes Map from website In development

Map of personal care homes from the prototype website.

A prototype of the website has been designed. The way it is set up, it allows users to search for homes using a map that shows where all care homes are, with colour coding to distinguish those that have current vacancies from those that don’t. The site includes information about each care home and its characteristics, and also allows users to narrow their search using criteria like does the home have stairs or is there night staff available.

“It really allows people to create a short list of homes in their preferred areas, and that can fit their needs, and shows real-time availability, unlike the old booklet, which could be three or four months old and did not contain vacancy information,” said Matthies.

Either the entire list or the narrowed list will be printable, so that staff or family members helping with the search can easily print off the information necessary for the clients.

“We really wanted to offer that option for people who are unfamiliar with computers, and those who don’t actually own one,” he said.

The website will also offer links to other resources for clients, their families, and for PCH workers and owners.

The plan is to have the site fully developed, then tested, and to get it up and available to the public very soon.

“We’ve kept everything very broad – even adding a section for those looking for a PCH outside of Saskatoon – so that it could promote partnerships at a provincial level,” Matthies explained. “We’re keeping the doors open for more people to use the site, for greater partnerships.”

As an added result of the meetings between the PCH owners and the Region, the owners are forming an association so they can access funding for education and training, among other benefits. Matthies is hopeful that the association will make it easier for the Region to work with PCHs to address other issues that have been raised, and make the connection between PCHs and the Region stronger.

“We’ve asked the PCH owners for their lists of what can be improved, and their ideas for and assistance with change,” Matthies said. “We can look at those lists and come up with patient-centred solutions together. This whole process has really opened up lines of communication between the Region and the PCH operators, and has really built trust. We need to support each other better, and this has shown that.”