Development of a community health and wellness pilot in a subsidised seniors’ apartment building in Hamilton, Ontario: Community Health Awareness Program delivered by Emergency Medical Services (CHAP-EMS)
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BACKGROUND: Older adults have higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and falls, leading to costly emergency medical service (EMS) calls and emergency room visits. We developed the Community Health Assessment Program through EMS (CHAP-EMS) that focuses on health promotion/prevention of hypertension and diabetes, links with primary care practitioners, targets seniors living in subsidized housing, and aims to reduce morbidity from these conditions, thereby reducing EMS calls. In this pilot study, we evaluated the feasibility of implementing the CHAP-EMS, attendance rates, prevalence of high blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors. METHODS: In this pilot study the CHAP-EMS was implemented in the intervention site over a 12 month period. BP, lifestyle, cardiovascular risk and EMS call rates were collected and descriptive analyses performed. Participants were residents (low income seniors) of a subsidized housing complex in Hamilton, Ontario. Two paramedics provided once-weekly sessions, measuring BP, assessing diabetes/lifestyle risk (CANRISK questionnaire) and discussed prevention/local wellness activities in the intervention site. Follow up was invited. RESULTS: A total of 1365 visits with 79 unique participants occurred; 48 (25.2%) visited at least twice; mean age was 72.2; 87.2% were 65 years of age and older and 68.1% were female; 90.3% had a family doctor. Overall, 45.2% had elevated BP initially from the total; 50.0% of participants previously diagnosed with hypertension had elevated BP while 33.3% not previously diagnosed had elevated BP. Almost 1 in 5 (19.4%) had diabetes; 66.7% had moderate to high risk of developing diabetes. CONCLUSION: This pilot study indicates that CHAP-EMS is a feasible program that could have impact on BP, lifestyle factors, diabetes risk and EMS calls in the buildings in which it was implemented.
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