I’ve written before that the hospital can be bad for your health. Well, in this case the hospital made all the difference for my client. Our team has been working with a lovely elderly couple in Mississauga for about 6 months now and for a while the senior care services we were providing led to an improvement. However, despite the personalized senior care of freshly prepared meals and the assistance of a personal support worker for 8 hours a day, the husband started to decline. His wife has Stage 4 cancer and he just didn’t seem to be coping well emotionally. He had little appetite, became withdrawn, and would refuse to engage in activities suggested by their PSW. His weakness was having a negative impact on his wife’s health because she wasn’t strong enough to care for him, and that alone was hard for her.
In health care we often call these symptoms “failure to thrive”. When there was no improvement over time, we encouraged him to follow up with his family doctor who then sent him over to the emergency department for evaluation. As expected he waited for almost 8 hours in a chair, which was extremely difficult for him given his frailty. Eventually he had blood tests and imaging completed, and he was admitted for dehydration. Once in the hospital he lost even more mobility and started wearing a diaper because he was soiling the sheets when he couldn’t get assistance to get up to the bathroom fast enough. The decline continued, and he remained in the hospital.
I did start by saying that the hospital helped this gentleman, which it did, but as you can see it didn’t start out that way.
The turning point was the recommendation for him to move to a rehabilitation bed. The rehab floor is just another ward in the hospital, but there are intensive physiotherapy programs and the staff resources to help people who are frail and weak from a hospital stay to regain their strength and mobility before returning home. After waiting for a bed for 5 days, he was transferred to the rehab floor and the improvements began. After 14 days he was stronger, his appetite improved, and he was ready to rejoin his wife at home. When there is a complicated home situation, sometimes being removed from that situation for a short period of time with focused support is required to get back on track. We had tried physiotherapy in the home before his hospital admission and he would refuse all services. Thanks to the hospital rehab program this man is on the road to recovery, and we are continuing his care at home in Mississauga.
– Jennifer Kazmaier RN