Fun ways to stay active on the rehab wards

Media Release 24 December 2019 |Eighty nine year old Mrs Sproul is currently second equal on the scoreboard in Middlemore’s Ward 5 corridor golf championship.

The spritely octogenarian is one of several Counties Manukau Health elderly patients being put through their paces in the name of rehabilitation.

The golf helps staff assess patients’ balance and coordination and provides some fun and healthy competition, explains charge nurse manager Analiza Carnice.
Patients arrive on Wards 4 and 5 (known as the rehabilitation wards) with many complex conditions, including heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and urinary tract infections, Ms Carnice says.

It’s the job of a multidisciplinary team, including nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists  to help them  where possible  towards  functioning  as they did pre hospitalisation.

“We do an assessment and then based on the goals of the patient, we try to come up with an individualised rehabilitation programme suited to that patient,” she says, adding the team can be very creative in trying to achieve this as is apparent in the golf competition.

Section Head Adult Rehabilitation and Health of Older People Sumitha Sahadew says Mrs Sproul quickly hit her stride and offered the chance to sit down for a while, refused.
“She said to us ‘No, I’m having fun!’”

Ward 4 and 5 patients are also encouraged to participate in “Breakfast Group”.  While it sounds like title of a popular 1980s movie, the purpose of Breakfast Group is much more practical, designed to assess how patients will cope with the task of preparing their morning meal when they return home, explains Ms Sahadew.


“If the patient at baseline makes their own breakfast at home we need to assess and see how well they are able to make their breakfast now. It could be a person that used to be able to make their breakfast with no issues but now they are struggling because they are just not strong enough to let go of a walking frame to hold the kettle or to pour, to put the toast in or they are having difficulty interpreting the steps required  to make breakfast. Whether they are able to make those decisions is actually what is being assessed,” Ms Sahadew says.

Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gerontology Judith Gavin says staff make sure to take every opportunity towards helping patients improve their level of functioning.

Rehabilitation is going to the toilet, putting your own clothes on.  It is sitting out in the chair for your meal as opposed to lying in bed. We are really trying to create an environment where patients and their family get to experience rehabilitation on a 24-7 level,” Ms Gavin says.

Ms Gavin says it is a privilege to work with elderly people, many of whom have a wealth of stories to share. “They are fragile and complex. I love to advocate for them and I love providing them with dignity.”

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