As a physiotherapist working in a hospital setting, you see the world differently from others, according to Melissa Bedford. Melissa and her colleague Tracy Thompson are physiotherapists at Campbellford Memorial Hospital supporting people in the hospital’s in-patient unit as well as those in the hospital’s Restorative Care program.
“Our role is about educating people on the potential risks for falls or injuries often present in a health care setting,” says Melissa, “Not only are we looking out for our patients, but we are also looking out for our nursing staff to ensure they are transferring patients correctly, and avoiding injury on the job by protecting their backs and using mechanical lifts to help move patients safely.”
The hospital’s physiotherapists provide assessment, treatment and consultation to patients with movement dysfunction. As many in their profession, they strive to achieve optimal health outcomes and use resources efficiently and safely.
“We work with a variety of patients here. Our job is to assess each patient, seeing their care needs from a physiotherapy perspective. This includes understanding how to mobilize the patient and make sure they are transferred and positioned safely when they are under care at the hospital. This also includes doing a falls assessment to determine their frailty and risk of falling. If there is a risk of falling, then we ensure the proper information is shared with the rest of the care team regarding this risk. This includes having information posted at the patient’s bed side, in their medical chart and within other patient records accessed by the care team,” says Tracy.
“In our Restorative Care Program, our patients need a higher level of physical therapy and related care to transition from the hospital or from an injury that has impacted their mobility back to their home again. Many of these patients are elderly and living alone at home. We work with them to assess their needs, help them get stronger, and work with their families to plan for their discharge and return home. We really want to promote independent living as much as possible,” adds Tracy.
“We’re trained to look at people differently. We look at how they are moving to determine if they are likely to fall more easily than someone else. We also gather information about their history to understand if they’ve fallen before. We seek to determine if they’ve had balance issues. We also do a walk-through of the areas where they will be receiving care and support walking to remove any tripping hazards,” she says.
Campbellford Memorial Hospital officially launched its Restorative Care Program a little over a year ago. This program is designed to ensure that local seniors, who have been hospitalized for an illness and are getting well, will have additional supports to regain their strength and return home quickly and safety. This is a transitional program for typically elderly inpatients requiring low intensity therapy to improve their strength, endurance, or functioning so they can return to their home safely following hospital care.
There are three key program benefits:
- Levels of individual function and independence are expected to improve with the support of a multidisciplinary team resulting in a safe transition from hospital to home
- Family members and care givers are engaged in the program and are better informed about individual care plans, and
- CMH is providing an environment that encourages more effective transition to home, and reduces the chances of patient readmission to the hospital or a prolonged hospital stay
“We’re fostering a culture that empowers a hospital setting that is sensitive to the needs of our patients and our Restorative Care Program is an example of that. Our staff and our board recognized the need for this kind of program because we know that it will help us to provide even better care for our senior patients. By linking this program with our ongoing Home First partnership with the Central East Community Care Access Centre and Community Care Northumberland, we are confident that we are providing better patient care while meeting our Alternate Level of Care targets and improving our emergency department wait times,” says Brad Hilker, President and CEO, Campbellford Memorial Hospital
“Our Restorative Care program is another example where our team of professionals like Tracy and Melissa can demonstrate their passion and drive for excellent care, while ensuring our patients have the additional support they require to return home quickly and safely,” says Jan Raine, Chief Nursing Officer, Campbellford Memorial Hospital.
“Working in a hospital this size provides many opportunities for professional development you might not get in a larger hospital setting,” says Melissa. “At Campbellford Memorial Hospital, we get more hands on experience, have opportunities to serve on different committees or help establish new policies or procedures.”
For example, Tracy recently implemented a new Falls Risk Assessment Protocol called the ‘Falling Leaf’ protocol. “There was an opportunity to improve upon the original falls assessment program and so, in conjunction with the Risk Co-ordinator, Dianne Laroche, we devised a new system. Every patient admitted to the hospital is assessed with the new assessment form. If they are deemed a falls risk, then they are identified by wearing a purple wrist band, and a leaf sticker is placed on the patient information board in their room, on their patient chart and on the nursing kardex. The physiotherapists also perform specialized balance tests (Tinetti and Berg) to further assess their risk of falls and to devise a special balance exercise regime to further prevent falls. We also teach people to get up off the floor!” she explains.
“This is also a friendly and family-oriented environment. There are a lot of patients who are admitted here who know other patients or staff. I think this familiarity and the related support they get from others gives patients a lot of reassurance and that helps with their recovery,” adds Melissa.