July 4, 2017
Story and photo by Melissa Ballantyne
Josie Erickson’s enthusiasm and zest for life is infectious. Smiling and referring with excitement to upcoming trips and plans to meet with friends, the vibrant 70-year-old Sundre resident leads an active and independent life — something an unexpected fall and broken hip threatened to take away.
The accident happened Jan. 26, causing her to cancel a Caribbean cruise that was just weeks away. After undergoing surgery and staying a week at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (RDRHC), Erickson was transferred back to Sundre and told she would be going into a restorative care program to aid in her healing, get home as quickly as possible and regain her independence.
“I’ve been in my condo for the last two years and I love it here,” Erickson says. “I made up my mind I was going to get better as fast and as soon as possible, but if it hadn’t been for the nurses and all the therapy, I would probably still be sitting in the hospital.”
Restorative care is a relatively new way of delivering rehabilitative care, which focuses on helping patients, particularly seniors, regain or retain their highest level of ability and allows them to return home safely, as soon as possible. Sundre and Olds are two of the eight areas in Central Zone currently offering restorative care.
Larry Gratton, Site Manager of the Sundre Hospital and Care Centre, says the four beds that opened last summer in Sundre have already proven their worth many times over.
“They’ve filled a gap that we previously had when a patient no longer required acute care services, but needed additional therapy before being discharged home,” Gratton says. “The additional capacity to help patients and discharge them home safely after an acute care stay has shown many benefits. Patients are in the right type of bed for their needs. Not only is this crucial to their rehabilitation, but it’s freeing up beds within acute care, and ultimately providing a much better experience for all patients.”
Almost 20 patients have taken advantage of Sundre’s restorative care program since it began last November.
When patients begin a restorative care program, they are assessed by physical and occupational therapists who design individual program plans. Therapy assistants provide day-to-day rehabilitation. Home visits are also conducted to determine what barriers a patient’s home environment may pose. Additional plans are put in place to either eliminate obstacles or improve the patient’s ability to manage them.
“It might be ambulating with a walker, or practising and strengthening to safely walk up and down a flight of stairs” says Gratton. “Patients may need to learn how to be functional again in their kitchen, or to independently shower or bathe themselves.”
Back in her own home for just over two months, Erickson has adjusted well and credits the care and expertise of the restorative care team with her tremendous recovery.
“I’m able to do almost everything I was doing before I broke my hip,” she says.
“I drive my own car and I do my own laundry.… I have a lady who comes in to clean my floors and whatnot, because it’s hard to hold a mop in one hand and a cane in the other, but I’m hoping to have that cane gone by the end of the month.”
One of many restorative care success stories throughout Central Zone, Erickson can’t speak highly enough about the team that helped get her back home.
“I was determined to do it,” she says. “But the doctors and nursing staff did such a wonderful job. Even the kitchen staff — I never had a bad meal there! The nurses especially — it didn’t matter what kind of a day they were having, they always came in with a smile. Each day they helped me get stronger and ready to come home.”
Not wanting to miss out on anything life has to offer, Erickson has re-booked a cruise for the fall and will also be taking her annual summer trip to Comox: flying out, picking up a friend and driving back to Sundre, taking in the scenery of western Canada.
“I’ve done that trip for the last three years and, with the broken hip, my friend didn’t think I’d be able to make it this year. She said it was the best birthday present she ever had when I told her I’d still be coming and driving us back,” Erickson says with a smile.
“I’m able to do whatever I want to do … that’s the life of Riley!”