In 2018, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) asked the newly developed Provincial Geriatrics Leadership Office (PGLO) to identify and map the various programs, services and human resources that are delivering specialty health care services to older people living with complex health concerns (i.e. frailty) across Ontario. The PGLO, which is a resource serving the broad clinical field of geriatrics, agreed to this request on the condition that information collected would be vetted, shared and available to any contributors from the field so that future planning could happen in concert with front line clinicians.
This exercise was envisioned as a first step in capacity planning, with a primary goal of informing a current state view of the supply and utilization of health services designed for older people living with frailty (e.g. specialized geriatric services) to contribute to future capacity planning.
A general definition for specialized geriatric services (SGS) was adopted. Throughout this work, SGS is defined as comprehensive, coordinated hospital and community-based geriatric medicine, geriatric psychiatry (including mental health and behavioural support services) and specific primary care services (i.e. Primary Care Memory Clinics, Care of the Elderly Primary Care Physicians). It includes health services focused on the provision of care to older people with complex physical, physiological, cognitive, mental and social health concerns by expert health professionals. The human resources working in these services require specialized competence in assessing, diagnosing, treating and supporting older people living with complex health concerns.
The term SGS used in this exercise is independent of organizations or entities that may have historically operated or funded these types of health care services. It is a definition that resonates with a practice field that is highly skilled, clinically focused and that serves the interests of some of Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens.