For nearly a decade, Queen’s Family Medicine has partnered with Providence Care’s long-term care home, Providence Manor, to offer an innovative medical residency program. “We have about 50 new medical residents coming in every year for a two-year residency,” says Dr. David Barber, who oversees the program.
Among the many benefits is the continuity of care it provides for Providence Manor residents. “For these young physicians to be able to follow people in the home for a full year is quite unique,” says Dr. Barber. Learning to strike the right balance between quality of life and medical interventions is the biggest challenge of the training.
“Long-term care is a different type of practice,” says Dr. Barber, “and there’s very little exposure to it in medical school.”
The fixing and investigating that dominate other types of medicine often take a back seat to comfort and quality of life in long-term care. “It’s not a lesser quality of care,” he says, “but the focus is different.”
Dr. Barber says, “pain control is hugely important” as is “managing the symptoms of dementia.” The increasing prevalence of cognitive impairment among long-term care residents creates additional challenges for the medical community. “There are a lot of alternate decision-makers. Involving families in care decisions and being mindful of communicating with them is a big part of the training.”
From what he’s seen Dr. Barber says these young doctors enjoy their time at Providence Manor and the opportunity to hear residents’ life stories. “It always comes down to connecting with the people, which is the real joy of medicine.”