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.
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.
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