Ontario court supports gov’t in physio changes

The Ontario court Aug. 21 denied an application by the Designated Physiotherapy Clinics Association to stall the government’s plan to implement funding changes that will affect

Deb Matthews

Deb Matthews

physiotherapy in long-term care.

The clinics had launched an aggressive campaign to engage the provincial Liberals in more discussion before the changes took effect. On July 26, a judge ruled in favour of the clinics, suggesting that their application warranted a review by a three-judge panel. But the panel’s review chose to back the government, which has now stated it will move forward with the funding changes.

It could mean a reduction in physiotherapy services in long-term care and retirement homes; however OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy says the company is continuing to work closely with its physiotherapy providers to ensure minimal impact on residents of OMNI homes.

Service club outreach benefits seniors

Lions reach out to residents of Village Green

The Tamworth and District Lions Club first reached out to long-term care homes including Village Green to celebrate the renovation of the Beaver Lake Park in Tamworth; everyone had such a good time, that the Lions have repeated the outreach annually.

“If you only knew how much the Lions club enjoy doing that event,” says Lions member Wayne Rice. “The people who ride on the boats get such a big kick out of it. A woman in her 90s last year said it was her first time ever out on a boat. Our member really enjoy engaging with the residents, letting them see something new.”

Nine residents, four volunteers, the life enrichment co-ordinator and a life enrichment aide from OMNI Health Care’s Selby, Ont. home took part in a barbecue and pontoon boat rides on Beaver Lake organized and hosted by the Lions Aug. 14.

“The residents had such a good time a few years ago, that the Lions Club members decided to have the event every year to give to the community,” says life enrichment co-ordinator Karen Coulter.

esidents of Village Green in Selby, Ont. enjoy tours of Beaver Lake Park aboard a pontoon boat, thanks fo he Tamworth Lions Club.

residents of Village Green in Selby, Ont. enjoy tours of Beaver Lake Park aboard a pontoon boat, thanks for he Tamworth Lions Club.

“The residents enjoy getting together with others in the community and enjoying the summer activities and the great outdoors. It is a new experience for some, as they have never been on a pontoon.”

For many residents, the outing brings back memories, she adds.

“Many of the residents are from this area. They tell stories of Beaver Lake, boating, fishing and summer holidays, and of course the smell of a BBQ by the lake.”

Among its many community services, the Tamworth Lions Club maintains Beaver Lake Park. The boat tours of the lake for seniors and special needs groups are part of its outreach to the community, under its motto “We serve.”

“The Lions members are so gracious and go out of their way to assist residents and make the afternoon wonderful for all,” Coulter says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)axiomnews.ca.



‘Physio is what keeps me going’: resident

Leonard Grady spends 12 hours a day in a wheelchair. The rest of the time, or most of it, he’s in bed.

If it weren’t for the physiotherapy services provided to his long-term care residence, Garden Terrace in Kanata, by Achieva Health, he would be very uncomfortable.

Garden Terrace residents ask the government not to alter funding for physiotherapy in long-term care.

Garden Terrace residents ask the government not to alter funding for physiotherapy in long-term care.

That’s not an empty prediction; Grady is actually experimenting.

“If I don’t have any exercise in a week, if I’m busy with family guests, I start losing the ability to sleep well,” he tells the OMNIway.

He suffers more cramps and the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, and it becomes harder to feed himself.

Grady is 73 and he has muscular sclerosis.

“The way I live is still fairly good yet, even though I’m in a wheelchair,” he says.

“If you sit here in this chair for 12 hours without any exercises, I just lose that.”

Grady receives physiotherapy services three times a week to maintain flexibility and strength in both his arms, so he can feed himself, and his legs, so he can stand.

“Physio is what keeps me going,” he says.

Yolande Perry is 80, and she also lives at Garden Terrace. She often wants to visit her family, and it requires that she be able to climb stairs. That’s a problem for Perry; she has fibromyalgia and has had hip fractures.

“If it hadn’t been for the therapy, I wouldn’t be walking,” she says, adding that she was able to attend a family barbecue on the weekend because of the therapy. “If I don’t do the exercises, I jam up.”

Both Grady and Perry are treated by Achieva Health physiotherapist Viji Rajasekaran who says “these guys need the physiotherapy three times a week.”

A member of the health team at Garden Terrace for three years, Rajasekaran describes the world in long-term care, where residents often arrive after a hospital stay and need help to return to their usual level of activity.

By working on flexibility, strength, balance and education, therapists help residents regain stamina that not only improves their quality of life, but also reduces their risk of further injury by tripping or transferring from bed to wheelchair. Motion exercises also help reduce the risk and severity of ulcers.

The process starts with a realistic three-month goal. With frequent regular therapy, the goal is achieved, but the threat of funding cuts that would reduce the frequency of physiotherapy services in long-term care homes worries Rajasekaran.

If they’re going to get less than three times a week, it’s hard to achieve the goals. There will definitely be a decline in residents’ health, and it will lead to more falls, more contractures and ulcers, more hospitalizations, and more money spent for seniors’ care in hospitals.

“Some families are very concerned and worried,” she says.

A three-panel just will begin today to review an application by some physiotherapy clinics in the province to stop the government from spreading physiotherapy funding in a thinner layer to more seniors. The physiotherapists claim the consultation process the government used was flawed, even by its own standards. A judge agreed with the application on first review July 26, and delayed any implementation of physio funding cuts in long-term care until after the more in-depth review set to begin today.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)axiomnews.ca.



Fun and laughter complement new cruise experience

Six residents tour the Thousand Islands

The Pleasant Meadow Manor team changed things up for this year’s annual boat cruise last week by taking six residents to Gananoque to tour the Thousand Islands — a move that delighted those participants.

In past years the Norwood long-term care home took residents to Stony Lake for a boat cruise in summer. However, cruises at Stony Lake are unavailable this year, so the team decided to take residents more than two hours away to Gananoque, and both the cruise and the drive down presented opportunities for fun and laughter, says life enrichment co-ordinator Chris Garden.[wzslider info=”true”]

Garden packed a lunch of sandwiches, doughnuts and fruit for the six residents, four staff members and a volunteer who went on the cruise, which was a good time from start to finish, she says.

“We laughed and giggled all the way there on the long ride, and the residents enjoyed the boat cruise, even though it was a little overcast in some places,” Garden says.

Resident Helen Hogg, who has lived at Pleasant Meadow Manor since May, says it’s activities like the cruise that make life at the home special.

She says her favourite parts of the day were driving down to Gananoque in the OMNI van and seeing the boats on the water once they arrived at Lake Ontario.

“And it was a finger-licking good lunch,” Hogg laughs, adding this was her favourite outing to date.

Given that the group was not familiar with the trip between Norwood and Gananoque there was one small issue — they briefly got lost. But even that was fun for people, says Garden.

“We had a GPS, so we quickly found our way back to the correct route,” she chuckles.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Ontario court to rule on government’s physio plan

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel will hear whether there is reason to hold off on implementing changes to physiotherapy services for seniors in Ontario. 

In April, the government announced it would redirect some of its funding to alternate sources so that more seniors in the community would receive care. Since then, there has been aggressive campaigning on behalf of those offering services in long-term care and retirement facilities. They say the process the government used to alter and announce the funding was flawed, even by its own rules.

In July, a single-judge hearing offered physiotherapists another month before a final decision by this week’s three-judge panel will be rendered.

Stay tuned to this site for the latest news.

Program cuts time, money in long-term care

A resident who recently moved into Almonte Country Haven arrived with a serious ulcer, one that threatened to deteriorate and cause major mobility, pain and medical complications.

Thanks to quick, efficient service by the physiotherapist, the resident was fitted with a custom wheelchair with devices that allowed him to be mobile enough that the ulcer was able to heal.

That’s the kind of example registered physiotherapist Gary Rahan gives when he talks about the service physiotherapists in long-term care settings can provide.

“That’s one example; there are hundreds,” he says.

The assistive devices program covers seniors in long-term care for wheelchairs, walkers, backrests and custom cushions, and it licenses occupational and physiotherapists to provide the service.

The process starts when the nursing staff identifies a need. Then the physiotherapist calls together the resident or the power of attorney, and a vendor chosen by the resident. A 30- to 60-minute assessment for needs and fitting is done, and the vendor fills the order.

The next step is for crucial usage information to be assessed. As the resident uses the device, minor adjustments are made on site, or the vendor does reassessment. Only once the device is suited perfectly to the resident is funding approval sought from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

Approval can take between four and 12 weeks, and 75 per cent of the device is covered by the government. The rest falls to private insurance for the few residents who have it, or to the resident’s own pocket. With costs for a wheelchair at up to $5,500, the payment can be significant, and often limiting.

“At least that is the only cost the resident might incur,” Rahan says, adding it is important to remember that seniors are often struggling financially.

In the past, when Community Care Access Centres provided the service for the assistive devices program, Rahan says many residents suffered long wait times and opted for an assessment by a private physiotherapist, at an additional cost of up to $400.

Again, the cost can be limiting for many residents, and the alternative — waiting — can be physically painful and ultimately medically threatening.

“An ulcer can develop within days. By the time the seating options are ready, the ulcer could have become much worse,” Rahan says.

“The way the system is now, residents are not waiting that long,” Rahan says.

“This is our way of giving back to the residents, adding this value to our service,” he adds.

The resident at Almonte Country Haven, like many, arrived with no wheelchair or walker following a hospital stay.  Within the first week, the resident had a loaner chair.

“We prevented a lot of grief for that resident,” Rahan says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)axiomnews.ca.


Riverview goes rural

Farm animals engage 50 residents

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — The chatter wasn’t just from the clucking hens, or the baaing goat; it was as much from the residents of Riverview Manor who welcomed a mobile petting zoo complete with a lamb, goat, chickens, bunnies, a rooster or two and baby chicks.

As resident after resident touched and chatted to a bin full of baby chicks, another group of residents had a chance to get up-close and personal with the white duck that made its way around the group Aug. 15.


It was all part of a mobile farm afternoon organized for the Peterborough home by acting life enrichment co-ordinator Joanne Brown through Critter Visits, a local group that travels with its petting zoo to various celebrations.

“This event surpasses what I expected,” Brown says. “The residents are so obviously enjoying this.”

That was clear, not just from the smiles, but also from the number of residents who attended the event. As well, the chatter amongst them, or between them and the animals, was telltale.

One resident stunned many staff by her participation in the event. She was so involved in the petting zoo that she requested a chair so she could sit with the animals.

“The background is that some residents are slow to take part in group activities,” Brown says. “Not here, not today. It’s a whole different story, and it’s really nice to hear the other staff mention it.”

One staff member brought her two young children, so there were animal lovers of all ages in the garden.

That amused one resident specifically who said, “it’s so nice to see the children here too.”

Brown says while many residents have  a farming background, not all do.

“It’s entertainment for the residents. They love to just watch the  animals interact with one another, and they like to touch and feel them too,” she says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)axiomnews.ca.

Physio restores dreams of ‘walking in the park’

No shortage of success stories in long-term care

For one Forest Hill resident, physiotherapy was a key element in breaking the sentence of forever having to use wheelchair.

For another, it offered the chance to return to activity after a knee replacement.

Still another faced giving up garden walks with her sister, until exercise and strategic physio services strengthened her body, and also her confidence, in walking.

These are just a few of the stories from Forest Hill in Kanata.

“We have lots of them,” says registered physiotherapist Andy Natarajan.

One of the most dramatic though is a woman who broke her hip. Following the surgery, it was evident to most that she would be using a wheelchair for the rest of her life. But some strategically designed exercises and careful monitoring of goals got her back on her feet. Now she is independent with a walker.

“Nobody expected that, not even family,” Natarajan says.

Another very active resident found herself in a predicament when she needed a knee replacement.

“All of a sudden she couldn’t go out, and that was really important to her,” Natarajan says, adding that exercise and, again, careful monitoring of goals, helped her regain her independence.

“She says now that it got her back her independence,” he says.

There are other stories, like the patient who likes to walk in the garden with her sister. Both have Huntington ’s disease, and spending the garden time together is important for many reasons. Unfortunately, for a time, one of the sisters had such difficulty with balance that she couldn’t walk without assistance. Now, though, through strengthening and balancing exercise, the sisters are again, walking together in the garden.

“Patients in long-term care have a major problem,” Natarajan says. “When we get old, we become deconditioned, our balance goes off, and we are at risk of falls. Everyone is different. So individualized treatment plans for each resident that are focussed and goal-oriented are crucial.”

This is one in a series of physiotherapy-related stories from our homes. If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)axiomnews.ca.