Best care is… building a team of community partners to achieve wellness

Best care is… building a team of community partners to achieve wellness

An avid soccer player and sports enthusiast, Dave is embracing the “team” approach to his recovery after suffering a heart attack.

Thanks to a unique community partnership between Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), McMaster University and the YMCA, Dave benefits from receiving the right care delivered in the right place at the right time in his life.

Dave has high praise for the surgical and medical teams at the Hamilton General Hospital that acted quickly to diagnose his condition after experiencing a nagging “ache” in his chest. Not long after he was admitted, Dave had double-bypass surgery and was home in four days.

After several weeks of recovery and rehabilitation, Dave was ready to add more members to his team and continue to achieve his wellness goals through HHS and the YMCA’s Healthy Hearts program.

Healthy Hearts is an exercise and education program designed for people like Dave who have completed their rehabilitation program at the hospital, or who are at risk of developing heart disease and are looking for support in prevention. It’s just one of a number of community-based rehabilitation “LiveWell” programs offered at the YMCA for recovering HHS patients.

Upon a doctor’s referral, each participant works with a specially trained YMCA Wellness Coach who designs a fitness program based on individual health and fitness needs.

“The programs we offer in partnership with HHS are a wonderful opportunity for patients to get out, interact with others who are facing similar health challenges, gain confidence and improve their quality of life by building strength and endurance,” says Corinne, a LiveWell Specialist and educator at the YMCA.

For Dave, the transition between his rehab program in hospital and Healthy Hearts has been seamless and convenient. “It’s terrific to have a program like this in the community,” he adds. “And it’s comforting to know that the team is there for you as long it takes to reach your goals.”

Genevieve, the YMCA’s Senior Regional Manager of Health and Fitness, agrees. “We find patients like to be closer to home in a community-based program where there’s a camaraderie and sense of sharing among participants.” She says they also experience the benefits of regular exercise to help them stay healthy and reduce any secondary occurrences.

“I enjoy the positive direction and motivation from staff and other participants. I’ve made many new friends since starting the program,” says Dave. “It’s what keeps people coming back. My supervised program is two days a week but I’m exercising six days a week.”

As he approaches his one-year anniversary in the Healthy Hearts program, Dave feels better than ever. “With regular exercise, my blood glucose levels are down and my cholesterol medication has been cut in half,” he says. “It’s a winning feeling to know that everyone on my health care team, throughout the community, is committed to my best health.”


YMCA Live-Well Program

Strengthening Lives Together

Submitted By: Teri Czajka, Genevieve Hladysh and Rebecca Repa

The Live Well program began as an idea for a community healthcare model. An innovative partnership between the YMCA of Hamilton-Burlington-Brant, McMaster University and the Hamilton Health Sciences started with 2 programs (In Motion and Can Well). Over the past 5 years this has grown and flourished into eight distinct programs offered out of the YMCAs. Live Well represents how an innovative partnership has significantly influenced how we deliver community health care. The primary goal for Live Well is to promote “living well “, and accommodating for every person who participates in community based exercise programming. All the programs promote that people with chronic conditions can participate in exercise.

Live Well helps define what needs to remain in a hospital setting and what can be offered within the community. The supports provided through our HHS Allied Health staff are a major component for the Live Well programming. Health professionals are brought in to design the programming, train YMCA staff, educate members, and assist participants within the programs. It provides the “soft land” in the transitions pre and/or post hospital care. People can access these programs throughout the care continuum.

The result is that people no longer identify with being “sick” and receiving care at a hospital, they identify with being well and in the community for safe, supervised, exercise programming. From a chronic disease management perspective, it is keeping people healthy, keeping people in the community, and getting them out of an institutional setting. From a hospital perspective it is a sustainable resource that delivers programming to people closer to their homes, and it is inclusive.

Research shows that after illness people can become socially isolated. Live Well is a program that features group designed exercise, creates lasting relationships, and promotes and sustains participation. . The social inclusion may not be why members start, but it is definitely why they stay – and according to our statistics it is keeping them in programming above the norms associated with our other YMCA members. In addition participants can bring their families as the YMCA offers something for everyone.

Participants are members of the YMCA, and because the YMCA is a charity, they are able to offer financial support, so no patient is turned away due to finances. There is no discharge so participants are able to access the LiveWell programs for as long as they feel that they need to.

Staff at the YMCA, McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences are excited and passionate about these programs. We hope that you will be too.

Visit our Strategy in Action page for related stories.

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