LDC’s Bridging You Home program targets post-surgery seniors

October 8, 2014   ·   0 Comments

For a senior about to go in for surgery, knowing whether appropriate measures and people will be there to help with the healing process can be a stressful concern. For them, the Lord Dufferin Centre’s Bridging You Home rehabilitation program is designed to alleviate the stress and fears surrounding that very topic.

“The program is a short-term rehab program designed to help seniors in the community who are recovering from illness or surgery,” explained Patricia Banks, Nurse Consultant at the seniors’ residence. “We get a lot of surgical post-operative patients and clients, such as those who have had hip or knee surgery. We help them rehabilitate over a 21-day stay.”

She added that the people they provide services for are part of an identified gap in community services. Most people are discharged from the hospital once they are deemed medically stable, but it can often be too soon for them to function independently at home.

“We partnered with the County of Dufferin and ran a pilot program just over five years ago,” said Ms. Banks. “People, mostly seniors, were being discharged from the hospital and sent home, and were finding themselves unable to cope. They would go home for a bit, then end up right back in the hospital.”

The LDC program was developed to help participants recuperate to the point where they could independently function at home, in order to help prevent that return to the hospital.

Since the beginnings of the program with the pilot, until now, Bridging You Home has had an incredible amount of success. They have seen over 150 people through the program during that time, and have had great results with those people.

One such patient was local resident Ginny O’Donnell. Her story began shortly before her surgery. She found herself in a Catch-22 with the local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) due to jurisdictional issues; because her operation was in Newmarket, the local (Central West) branch couldn’t assist her with post-discharge care, but because she lives here, the Newmarket branch couldn’t assist her.

Time for the surgery was drawing close, and Ms. O’Donnell and her husband were beginning to feel a crunch. The closest facility they had been able to find was in Alliston, and came at a hefty cost.

“I really didn’t want to have to go there, and my husband had heard about a program at the Lord Dufferin Centre,” said Ms. O’Donnell. “I didn’t have a lot of mobility at the time, so I sent him to inquire about it. He called me later raving that I wasn’t going to believe how great a program it was.”

The program was affordable and could provide Ms. O’Donnell with all the things she would need to recover – everything from three weekly visits from a physiotherapist, who designs a personal routine that personal service workers (PSWs) assist with seven days a week, to assistance in the mornings and evenings, fully prepared meals and more.  “She really did come to us by accident,” said Ms. Banks. “But having her here was fantastic. From the moment she set foot here, she was an incredible person to have. She did really well through the program, and it was just a very positive experience on all sides.”

Ms. O’Donnell echoed those sentiments, as she shared her experiences with tears in her eyes, fondly reminiscing about her time spent there.

“The whole experience was incredible,” she said. “When I left, I was very teary-eyed, because I didn’t want to leave. You feel like you are a part of life there. Everything you do outside of your own room is with the permanent residents.”

She added that one of her favourite memories was getting to know a 101-year-old woman who sat at her table during her three weeks there.

“The people there, I just can’t say enough about them; the staff and the residents,” she said. “It’s only three weeks, but the impact that they have on you is incredible. When I left there, I felt like I was leaving my friends behind. I almost didn’t want to come home.”

According to Ms. Banks, they believe it’s that personal side that is part of what makes Bridging You Home program so powerful and so successful.

“We very strongly believe that 95 percent of your healing is psychological,” she said. “The fact that you’re healing in an environment that is more like a home-like setting is important, and that you’re surrounded by a very social, very upbeat environment, makes a huge difference.”

She added that healing at home can also be a positive experience, but the benefit to having it happen at the Lord Dufferin Centre through the program is that the social component really adds more depth to that healing. “You have the opportunity to interact more with people your own age,” said Ms. Banks. “That might not be possible for independent seniors living at home still.”

The program has limited space available at a time, with typically only two beds available. However, when there are empty suites at the residence (on the site of the former Dufferin Area Hospital), they can take up to five at once.

Each accepted ‘patient’ has to meet a certain checklist of criteria before being admitted to the program.

“They have to be able to be independent with all their transfers,” said Ms. Banks. “The program provides assistance with care in the morning and evening, as well as moving them to and from the dining room, but they have to be able to get to the washroom themselves and to and from their beds.”

When they are nearing the end of their three-week period with the program, Ms. Banks does a referral for them to the CCAC to identify any needs they might have when they go home.

“We don’t just ship them out and abandon them,” she said. “We want them to have a seamless transition home. I make calls within the following two weeks just to make sure they are okay and settling in well. I always leave that door open for them too. If they have any concerns when they go home, they can always call me.”

Ms. O’Donnell definitely felt that continued love and concern, and credits her experience there to helping her get back into her life.

“I want everyone to know about this program, because I didn’t know about it,” she said. “I’ve been telling everybody because they need to know just how great this program is. Before this, I was terrified of the idea of going into a retirement home, or a long-term care home. Now, I don’t care. I would go back there any day. I love it there and I would happily go spent the rest of my life there.”

And while the goal of the program isn’t to bring in new residents to the Lord Dufferin Centre or add them to the wait list, Ms. Banks explained that hearing residents express similar sentiments to Ms. O’Donnell reaffirms that what they’re doing is a good thing.

“It’s been really positive for us because it just confirms that we are making this a home, and that it really feels like a home to people in the program,” said Ms. Banks. “We just love the idea of being able to help people get back out there and get them home.”

For more information on the program or to inquire about availability, contact the Lord Dufferin Centre at 519-941-8433 and ask about the Bridging You Home Program.

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