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New model of primary and community care being introduced throughout British Columbia

Primary care is typically the first and main point of contact a patient has within the health-care system – usually care from a family doctor or nurse practitioner, who also co-ordinates any other specialized care that the patient may need.

Teams and networks of primary care providers are at the centre of the new model for primary and community care services being established around the province – including family doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and medical office assistants. These teams have strong connections to services provided by health authorities, which include redesigning and new specialized community care services for vulnerable patients – including the frail elderly, those with complex health needs, and those dealing with mental illness or substance-use issues.

The $90 million in new funding is targeted to support the expansion of this kind of team-based primary and community care throughout the province, such as the establishment of nurses and nurse practitioners in primary care clinics. Working with existing doctors’ offices – or groups of doctors’ offices – the nursing positions will allow doctors to care for more patients, as well as provide better supports. Other health professionals in the community, such as pharmacists, occupational therapists and social workers, will also be connected with doctors’ offices to help to provide more comprehensive, integrated care for patients.

As a result of this added funding, the ministry will also continue to develop new comprehensive options for funding new team-based primary care services throughout the province.

Through this new integrated approach to primary care, patients receive continuous, co-ordinated care over time and across settings – and are supported to proactively maintain their health and quality of life. This can help patients retain their independence longer, improve their quality of life, help them avoid admissions to hospital because of health issues and avoid premature entry into residential care.

Early-adopter communities, like Kamloops, will be home to new primary care teams, networks and specialized community care services over time, developed in partnership between the Ministry of Health, Doctors of BC, health authorities, Divisions of Family Practice, and local doctors, nursing and allied health-care providers. The model will be tailored to individual community needs and strengths.