A specialized team of health-care professionals in Langley is able to step in and provide a fresh set of eyes for seniors experiencing a variety of complex and serious health issues.
The Langley Seniors Clinic, for instance, recently met a man who was experiencing falls. He first came to the attention of the team’s occupational therapist (OT).
“So she was helping with equipment, and but then his falls started to get worse and he seemed to be deteriorating,” said Celeste Sizeland, an RN who has been on the seniors clinic team for three years.
Sizeland checked the man’s medications.
“So then we have the pharmacist come in,” she explained. “Actually it was one of his medications, and that corresponded with the decline. And so the pharmacist liaised with the doctor, and they stopped that medication. We actually saw him improve and then our physio was able to go in and help him with exercises to try and get a little bit of that strength back that he had lost over those few months. And in the meantime the OT was continuing to follow with equipment to help keep him in the home.”
Not only did the man improve, but his wife, who was his primary caregiver and was stretched thin, was also helped by the team with education and planning.
The seniors clinic can provide comprehensive screening, assessment, treatment, planning and education, working not only with the members from many disciplines but also people’s family doctors, community pharmacists and others.
Sizeland, who has been an RN for 14, is a big advocate of the team approach – people with different skill sets coming to the table.
“We can all come together in the same room and talk at the same time, discuss ideas,” she said.
The team approach also benefits the health care system since people who are healthier require fewer medical services.
In the past, a patient or caregiver would have to do more chasing to access the same services. Sizeland noted that service can be provided in the clinic based out of Langley Memorial Hospital or in people’s homes.
“We are able to in those circumstances where people are very frail or home-bound. We are able to do the home visits and so people have that that option now, which I do think is a good service. It’s an invaluable service,” she added.
Seniors must be referred to the clinic by a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health professional.
And the clinic is not a replacement for primary health care. The team works with a patient temporarily to help with specific health issues in an interdisciplinary manner.
Sizeland noted that it’s important that experts review people’s current medical circumstances, because there are important changes over time, pointing to medications as one area requiring scrutiny.
“Medications that you can tolerate as a younger person as we get older, our bodies change, and our body’s ability to process those medications changes,” she explained. “And so what we tolerated six months ago, a year ago, we might not tolerate now, and it may have a stronger effect and so they have to be adjusted quite often, and that’s part of the specialty of geriatrics.”
In all, Fraser Health has eight seniors clinics in its coverage region.
The Langley team hopes to connect with the community more. Sizeland said, for instance, that they have done presentations through the Langley Care Society in the past and would like to do more of that as part of their passion for helping people.
“The goal is to optimize your health, get you healthy, keep you strong,” she said. “Our goal is to keep people in the community happy where they want to be.”
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