For some patients in our healthcare system, the hospitals in which they are treated and cared for function almost as their permanent homes.
But “home life” for those patients, with its clinical characteristics, doesn’t resemble what able-bodied people are used to. West Park Healthcare Centre is trying to change that for some of its complex continuing care respiratory patients with the introduction of the Enhanced Living Service (ELS).
Opened in early October 2012, the ELS is situated in a building separate from the main hospital building on West Park’s campus and features a more home-like setting with four apartments (two single and two double) to accommodate six current patients with issues requiring Chronic Assisted Ventilatory Care (CAVC).
Made possible with funding through the Toronto Central LHIN, the ELS space includes a communal family room and a kitchen area for entertainment and meal preparation as well as direct access to the outdoors on West Park’s 27-acre campus.
The comfort of a warmer, less clinical environment is bolstered by the care that Client Care Attendant staff provide 24/7 from an adjacent workstation. Patients are also able to direct their own care and the service enables patients to transition back to the community.
For patients Deidre Samuels and Pat Godin, the new service offers the best of both worlds.
“We have more freedom and independence, and it’s less noisy and hectic than the old unit we were on” says Samuels, who has been at West Park for eight years.
Pat Godin, Samuels’ roommate, says the ELS accommodates a more independent, social lifestyle.
“We can dine together as a group, socialize, and use the computer. You get to know your fellow patients better,” Godin says. “I don’t feel like I’m in a hospital.”
Godin also is careful to point out other elements of the ELS and hospital as a whole that add to their more independent lifestyle. “We have our own private showers in each room and drawers for our personal things. We can also access the hairdresser at the Long-Term Care Centre (next door) and now the new (retail) pharmacy (in another nearby building).”
There are other exciting things afoot at the ELS. There are plans to create an ELS garden, and on May 29, ELS residents organized an art show called Rejuvenation, with art supplied by the students of Etobicoke’s Martingrove Collegiate Institute. Much of the art created will remain on the walls of the ELS and will be rotated regularly with other art.
The new relationship with Martingrove Collegiate will include future visits to the secondary school for art shows and other events.
Judy Gargaro, a West Park Clinical Program Evaluator conducted a clinical evaluation of the ELS after it opened and found, in interviews with ELS patients, that even though they were very happy with the new space, it needed more of an identity.
“Many of the patients were artists and suggested having art on the walls,” Gargaro says. “I suggested student art and they really liked the idea.”
The new surroundings with its home-like atmosphere has created a palpable atmosphere of camaraderie in the ELS. “I love it here,” says Samuels. “It’s a great space and I have a great roommate.”