Sub-Regions in North Simcoe Muskoka

North Simcoe Muskoka covers an area of 8,445 square kilometres and is home to 3.5 per cent of Ontario’s population, making it the second-smallest LHIN in terms of total population. The region features a greater proportion of rural and small town residents than the province, as well as some of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country.

Five sub-regions were established in the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN to address the unique health care requirements of residents such as retirees and seasonal residents in cottage country, growing families in newly developed suburbs, seniors in long-term care, Indigenous populations living on- and off-reserves, francophones, and others across the LHIN.

Barrie and area map Couchiching mapMuskoka and area map North Simcoe mapSGB map

What are sub-regions? 

Sub-regions are smaller geographic care communities within North Simcoe Muskoka. They’re used to help plan health services at an even more local level, reflecting the reality that different communities in the region have unique health care needs that may be driven by geography, population, and demographics. They offer a better way to plan and improve health services in a manner that is more in line with the diverse needs of communities within our region.

Barrie and area map  

Top Three Accomplishments

Launched the Seniors at Home initiative, which offered permanent housing with wraparound psycho-geriatric supports to 24 clients in its first year.

Connected Sub-region Planning Tables with municipal and health services for a collaborative approach to local health system planning.

The implementation of transitional bed programs designed to address the needs of acute capacity challenge. 

Top Three Challenges

Significant capacity challenges in acute care

The NSM LHIN has consistently demonstrated one of the highest Alternate Level of Care (ALC) rates in the province. In addition, the Personal Support Worker (PSW) shortage continues to contribute to ALC pressures as discharges are delayed until personal support services can be confirmed in the home.

Lack of long-term care beds to support community needs

At any given time, more than 50 patients are waiting at home in crisis in the Barrie and Area sub-region for Long-Term Care (LTC)—in addition to the large number of ALC patients waiting in hospital for LTC.

Lack of affordable housing and limited physical space to support housing options, including transitional beds

Stable housing is fundamental to positive health and wellness. Limited physical options for expansion of housing/transitional programs, combined with limited health human resources, continue to challenge system capacity.

Couchiching map

Top Three Accomplishments

Implemented a transitional bed program (operated by Helping Hands) to help alleviate acute capacity challenges. 

Engaged the community in local health planning, including partnering with the City of Orillia and 211 for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing survey.

Evolved the existing community-focused Transitions in Care Committee into the Sub-Regional Planning Table, building on strong, positive partnerships and establishing multiple working groups led by local health leaders to address issues such as capacity, care transitions, seniors access/behaviours, social determinants of health, and palliative care. 

Top Three Challenges

Chronic Disease Prevention and Management 

Residents are living longer with multiple chronic conditions. With limited local access to chronic disease management resources, a shortage in human resources and personal support services, and a lack of affordable transportation to access services, it remains difficult for them to remain well within the community. 

Sub-regional availability to appropriate level of care

The root causes of these issues are broad in nature and have provincial and regional initiatives underway to address them. The Couchiching Capacity Working Group is focusing on those aspects that are within their control—specifically, physical and human resources—and are engaged in sub-regional surge planning. 

Affordable housing/assisted living

There continues to be a shortage of affordable assisted living and housing options available within the sub-region.

Muskoka and area map Top Three Accomplishments

Secured district-wide representation for the Sub-region Planning Table, including Indigenous, LGBTQ, patient, caregiver, municipal government, public health, community health services, acute care, and palliative care stakeholders.

Supported Muskoka Algonquin Health Care in achieving a balanced budget in 2017/18.

Introduced Care Coordinators into primary care settings.

Top Three Challenges

Redevelopment of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC)

The current hospital funding formula continues to present significant challenges for MAHC as a multi-site, medium-sized hospital. MAHC’s Capital Planning Task Force) has completed a Stage1A plan, which includes the recommendation to redevelop sites in Huntsville and Bracebridge.

Highest rate of people aged 75+ in Ontario

Muskoka and Area has a high proportion of population aged 75 or older, yet has fewer long-term care (LTC) beds than is needed. Muskoka and Area is also experiencing a significant shortage of Personal Support Workers (PSW) to support community-based and long-term care. This contributes to high Alternate Level of Care (ALC) rates. The lack of transportation connecting service opportunities, and limited and under-funded dementia-related services also present challenges in light of the continued growth of the senior population. 

Prevalence of chronic disease

Prevalence rates of particularly obesity, asthma, and diabetes in Muskoka and area are significantly higher than the provincial average.

 North Simcoe map Top Three Accomplishments

Supported the expansion of the North Simcoe Family Health Team to offer allied health services to all residents in the sub-region, regardless of primary care attachment. 

Facilitated the establishment of a joint birthing program between Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) and Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) that will allow GBGH to provide Level 1 birthing services for low-risk pregnancies, while OSMH provides ongoing mentorship and education as a Level 2 birthing and neonatal centre. 

Supported the efforts of the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health and the CHIGAMIK Community Health Centre to bring together community mental health programs and services, and primary care services, in a new facility.  

Top Three Challenges

Access to Specialized Geriatric Services (SGS)

With seniors accounting for a significant proportion of North Simcoe’s population, work is underway to enhance and expand SGS services for aging adults. 

Integration and coordination of services

To improve the health care experience for North Simcoe residents, there’s a need to better connect care coordinators with primary care.

Health planning 

Creating an accurate and detailed community profile is the cornerstone for efficient health planning in North Simcoe.

 SGB map Top Three Accomplishments

Established collaborations across various levels of care as a first-wave Health Link adopter—including an award-winning OPP / Mental Health Ride Along Program—and continued to expand key partnerships with the development of the Sub-Regional Planning Table.

The successful implementation of a region-wide electronic medical record (EMR), directly integrating the health information systems of the Family Health Team, Community Health Centre, hospital, and other community agencies into a single EMR.

Established an Assertive Community Treatment Team, a client-centred, evidenced-based, best practice service for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.

Top Three Challenges

Growing population with the highest rate of seniors 65+

Between 2011 and 2016, South Georgian Bay experienced a 12 per cent increase in its population, making it the fastest-growing sub-region within the LHIN. It also has a large population of individuals who are 65 years of age or older.

The social determinants of health

The social determinants of health are significant drivers of health care use. Planning for the future health care needs in South Georgian Bay must include a holistic approach that is not solely focused on health services, but also addresses the root causes of health care issues including, but not limited to, affordable housing, food security, employment, and social isolation.

Redevelopment of the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital

The Collingwood General and Marine Hospital is currently working to complete its re-development, which is necessary to meet the current and future service demands of the South Georgian Bay sub-region.