On Their Own Turf
see faster recovery at home than in hospitals
Submitted by Fraser Health
nine weeks in the hospital, Patrick Bell was itching to go home.
At that point, the Chilliwack resident was in Eagle Ridge's High
Intensity Rehabilitation Unit recovering from a stroke in August
2011. He still needed a cane to walk, still had problems with his
speech and his right arm, and still needed help with everyday tasks.
But he desperately wanted to be home.
"About the last two weeks, I
was going a little crazy. I wanted to go home," admitted the
52-year-old boilermaker foreman.
A year earlier, Bell would have stayed in hospital for several more
weeks to complete his high-intensity physical, occupational and
speech therapy treatments.
But a new Fraser Health program allowed him to return home to his
wife Colleen and continue receiving the same level of rehab he had
received in hospital. Launched last summer, the Rehab Early
Discharge (REDi) Program targets patients like Bell, who still need
rehab but no longer require 24/7 care, can get to appointments, and
can manage at home with support from either family or Home Health
Recent North American research suggests rehab patients are happier
and improve faster when they are discharged earlier and continue
therapy as outpatients. This has been the case for REDi, which
allows patients to go home an average of nine to 11 days sooner -
freeing up hospital beds - while reducing a patient's recovery time.
"It's the best of both worlds," said Val Spurrell, Fraser Health's
Executive Director of Clinical Programs & Operations for Rehab,
Older Adult and Allied Health. "We've created a program that
provides great service with great outcomes, and the feedback from
patients has been so positive. It's also increasing our capacity. By
reducing inpatient stays, we can see more patients."
The program has been so successful that after its launch at Surrey
Memorial and Eagle Ridge hospitals in 2011, it was expanded to Peace
Arch Hospital and Queen's Park Care Centre and is now being
considered for other sites in Fraser Health.
Through REDi, patients come in up to four times a week and will see
multiple therapists during each appointment, which reduces a
patient's travel and speeds recovery.
Stroke recovery is also improved when patients are more active, and
Bell felt being at home gave him more opportunities to keep mobile -
particularly since he and his wife were still unpacking from their
move to a new home in Chilliwack just prior to his stroke. He
participated in Eagle Ridge's REDi program for two months before
starting another rehab pilot program for stroke patients at
Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
"At home you have to do things for yourself. I think it helped me,"
said Bell, who has two adult children and a granddaughter. "The
people in the REDi program, they're very good. They're a big part of
Bell is still working on improving his speech as well as dexterity
and strength in his right arm. But he can now walk four kilometers
and reacquired his driver's licence on Mar. 23. He hopes to return
to work in about a year's time.
"At the beginning you couldn't understand a thing I said, I was
stuck in a chair, my right side was completely dead. That's where I
came from," he said.
Spurrell noted that increasingly, outpatient programs such as REDi
are helping Fraser Health address the rising demand for health care.
Redesigning rehabilitation services to meet patient needs in a way
that is equally effective but more efficient enables Fraser Health
to reduce hospital congestion and serve more people.
This is particularly important for conditions such as stroke, which
are closely linked to age and on the rise. In B.C. stroke is the
leading cause of disability in adults, the second leading cause of
dementia, and the third leading cause of death.
"Our philosophy is that home is best," Spurrell said. "In the past
many services were only provided in a hospital. This program is
changing that. It's allowing people to be at home with their
families and receive the same level of care they could receive in
Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice