Helping seniors manage health-care transitions

View the segment on Global News Morning Calgary.

Jody Hughes (00:00):

Well, we certainly cannot control everything in life, but having a plan can take a lot of stress out of those unexpected moments, and this is where we bring in Aging-in-Place Specialist, MP Fortin.

Jody Hughes (00:11):

MP, good morning. Thank you so much for being with us.

MP Fortin (00:14):

Good morning.

Jody Hughes (00:15):

Now whether it’s a hospital stay or a move to a care facility, transitions can be difficult for anybody. Is it even harder though when we are getting a little bit older?

MP Fortin (00:27):

It is. There are different factors that explain that. First is the frailty of the person who is transitioning from one place to another. There’s also the living situation. Sometimes a senior is living alone or living with another senior adult who cannot always be there to help as much as they wish they did, so it’s really important to have conversations before transition happens so that you can be ready to manage it when it does happen.

Jody Hughes (00:58):

And are there particular things that we can have in place to help seniors as they, say, transition home from a hospital stay?

MP Fortin (01:06):

Absolutely. One thing that you need to keep in mind is transportation. You need to have a vehicle that will help the senior be able to get in and out, and also that you can carry the equipment with them. Sometimes you cannot be present when there is a discharge either, so having someone who will pick up your loved one and bring them home is also something that is important.

MP Fortin (01:32):

It’s not only the transportation, because once we get home, then it’s a new environment again, where you don’t have a whole care team. You don’t… the place may not be well lit. You need to manage any medication, go and get them and all of that, and it’s important to know who will be doing all of that so that the transition back home will be successful.

Jody Hughes (01:51):

And are there ways that we can help a loved one who is maybe going into the hospital for a short stay? Sometimes even just that change in environment can be difficult.

MP Fortin (01:59):

Absolutely. You can ease up the stress by going back to their homes and checking a few items off the list, doing a fridge run so that you can take any perishable items out of the fridge, make sure that there’s enough heat, especially coming into the winter, you don’t want any pipes to break because it’s frozen, and you want to make sure that they feel safe in that hospital environment, so doing some visitations, being present into the care, and if you cannot be there, having someone else, if you are out of town, then hiring a private caregiver can also help in facilitating those transitions, helping with pharmacy transitions, getting their new meds, getting everything ready for a successful trip back home.

Jody Hughes (02:48):

And I think too, this past year has really changed the way that our communication is happening with staff in certain facilities so that everybody has had to be a little more creative, so there’s always the opportunity to have the conversations about what does the healthcare team think that your loved one needs?

MP Fortin (03:07):

Exactly, and that’s another big stress in going from a hospital environment where you have a whole care team explaining to you step-by-step what is going on, and then when the senior goes home then there’s not that level of support, so hiring a company such as Ohana Care, you know you still have the healthcare aids that can provide the specific care that is required post-surgery, post-accident, post whatever the condition was. Also, they have access to a team of nurses who can go to the home and call the doctors, call the pharmacist, make sure that everything is still in place, and so you still have that care team whose only focus is the loved one trying to recover from whatever the cause was of the hospitalization.

Jody Hughes (03:51):

How do we know when somebody needs additional help that maybe we can’t provide? It’s difficult, because you feel the pressure you want to help them. How do you know when maybe it’s okay or you should be asking for help?

MP Fortin (04:04):

That’s a tough one because family dynamics are different from one family to the next. Some seniors may not want their loved ones to be hands-on with their care, whether it be wound care, if they had a surgery, perhaps they don’t want their loved one to have to take care of that wound or the personal care, because they’re not as solid as they thought they would be coming back home.

MP Fortin (04:28):

So again, that’s an important conversation to have so that everyone who is on board really wants that care to happen within the families. If your loved one struggles, if they’re not eating well, if they’re not sleeping well, if you feel like they’re declining since they’ve left the hospital, those are big signs that they’re not coping well with doing their rehabilitation at home, and that bringing in new service providers in the home would be helpful in order to be successful.

Jody Hughes (04:59):

Exactly, and success is the ultimate outcome here. MP, thank you-

MP Fortin (05:02):

Absolutely.

Jody Hughes (05:02):

… so much for your time today. For folks who would like to learn more, they can head to ohanacare.ca.

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