Supporting Seniors’ Health is Everybody’s Business!

At this time of rapid change, with the population both aging and living longer, the health system is undergoing significant transformation.

At Vitalité Health Network (VHN), 61% of our admitted patients and 47% of our ambulatory clinic patients are over age 65. Since our hospitals were originally designed to provide acute medical care rather than long-term care, they are not the ideal place to spend several weeks or months. Despite this fact, approximately 300 patients in the Network’s hospitals are awaiting placement in nursing homes.

To protect the health of our communities and ensure our patients receive the best possible care, both today and tomorrow, we are focusing on the complexities of caring for seniors in hospitals by exploring specialized care, communication strategies, and the structures needed to make hospital stays a positive experience for our seniors.

In this vein, we have developed a mission for VHN’s seniors’ health learning client program based on the needs that our patients and population are forecast to have over the next ten years. With patients and families always our priority, two major approaches have been guiding our actions – namely helping our seniors age well, safely and in the community, and providing holistic care to our seniors who need hospital or ambulatory care.

To support healthy aging in the community, we are seeking collaboration with our partners to create a seamless continuum of care and to both optimize our current services and propose new initiatives, in particular, with a renewed emphasis on home care and community services. We are striving to optimize access to geriatric ambulatory and community care by offering geriatric care clinics, aging in place programs, and access to integrated primary health care – so that chronic illnesses can be managed proactively.

In addition, we will roll out programs dedicated to early detection, preventing deconditioning during hospitalization, and improving coordination between health professionals, patients and families. These efforts will unfold over the next five years and form part of continuous learning-based strategic planning that offers the flexibility to adapt to constantly changing needs.

By keeping seniors at the centre of the decision-making process in order to meet their specific needs, hospitals will not only be able to treat medical conditions but also support home care and the independence, dignity, respect and general well-being of our seniors through a holistic approach with the individual at the heart of the continuum of care.

Finally, I would like to invite you and others to join in this societal shift aimed at improving quality of life for our senior population – since seniors’ health is everybody’s business!

Sharon Smyth Okana
Senior Vice-President of Client Programs and Nursing


The “Voice of Our Leaders,” the blog of Vitalité Health Network’s Leadership Team, covers various topics related to transformation of the health system. The team members share their thoughts – transparently and from their own perspectives – on the issues, challenges and priorities within their areas of responsibility and the health system as a whole.  Happy reading and happy reflection!

If you would like to share your thoughts or comments on this blog, please contact us at engagement [at]