Wellness, Independence & Quality of Life in Aging

History of North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services

Beginning in the late 1990’s the Simcoe District Health Council started consultation and planning related to regional programming for seniors.  In 2009, under the leadership of the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (NSM LHIN), the Seniors Health Regional Action Group was established and developed a Vision for an Integrated Regional Seniors Health Program to the NSM LHIN document.  The 2009 Vision was completed over an eight-month period by leaders in seniors health from across North Simcoe Muskoka.  Specifically focused on Specialized Geriatric Services (SGS), the document described a hub and spoke model of care, centrally coordinated and locally delivered.  The Vision addressed the role of SGS in system-wide leadership; clinical service delivery; program development and standardization of practice; education, mentorship and knowledge transfer; research and ethics; and, advocacy.

Upon completion, the 2009 Vision was endorsed by the NSM LHIN and remained a guiding document for regional seniors health planning.  While some programs emerged from this planning, others developed on their own through local and provincial initiatives to meet the growing pressures and demands of their communities.  Across the region there was recognition of the need for change, interest in collaboration and a true desire to improve the patient experience. 

In January 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care released an action plan for seniors entitled Independence, Activity & Good Health.  Within the plan, seniors were identified as a core element of the Ministry’s transformation agenda.  The plan included three goals - Healthy Seniors, Senior Friendly Communities and Safety & Security.  ‘Healthy Seniors’ aligned with the 2013 report released by Dr. Samir Sinha.  Within his Living Longer, Living Well  report, Dr. Sinha made 166 recommendations regarding seniors health ranging from wellness and housing to specialized geriatric services and end-of-life care.  In October 2013, in alignment with provincial directions, the NSM LHIN Board of Directors approved a plan to develop an integrated regional Seniors Health Program in NSM.  Using the Vision document as a starting point, a Task Group comprised of senior leaders and strategic thinkers from across NSM collaborated in 2014 to develop and release a Strategy for an Integrated Regional Seniors Health Program in North Simcoe Muskoka . The Strategy focused on Specialized Geriatric Services and frail seniors as the first building block in an integrated regional Seniors Health Program.  In late 2015, after additional planning and work, the North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services (SGS) program was established under the initial leadership of the NSM LHIN and the Lead Agency, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.  In early 2016 the NSM SGS Program began building its leadership team and in June 2016 an office was established in Barrie.  Early work was focused on building the infrastructure for the program and on the re-design of the North Simcoe Muskoka Behaviour Support System.