“Small things can make a big difference”: Horizon physiotherapists and occupational therapists help hospitalized patients get home faster

From left to right, physiotherapist Justin Saulnier, occupational therapist Michelle Goguen, and Tara Mann, manager of Physiotherapy Services for Horizon’s Moncton area.

Tara Mann, a Horizon physiotherapist, and the Manager of Physiotherapy Services and Julie Lawson, Manager of occupational and recreation therapy services for the Moncton Area, are proud that a regional initiative has been launched to improve the hospital experience of many vulnerable patients.

Throughout Horizon, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy departments are providing basic equipment, such as canes, walkers, shower chairs, tub transfer benches and raised toilet seats, to low-income patients so they can safely leave the hospital. Providing these basic tools helps patients be safe in their home as well as continue to enjoy daily living activities as they recover from illness or surgery.

Inpatient physiotherapists and occupational therapists are part of this successful working group, that has assisted 128 patients in getting a faster discharge from the hospital and has saved an estimated 2,436 admitted hospital days. This has resulted in reducing the length of stay for these patients and ultimately freeing up hospital beds for patients with acute care needs.

Timely access to basic adaptive aids and equipment is essential to facilitate timely discharge from a hospital when our medical services are no longer needed. “This initiative is fantastic, awesome, and makes business sense while ensuring great patient care. Small things can make a big difference,” said Tara.

According to Julie, “This initiative gives occupational therapists and physiotherapists the support needed to overcome barriers to getting patients home safely when no other resources are available. The provision of basic equipment can help overcome physical challenges, promote independence, and support early discharge.”

When describing the excitement felt by the team in Moncton, as well as at other Horizon hospitals, the following heartwarming stories are shared:

  • A homeless man with a broken foot was provided crutches so he could walk on his own, when it was safe for him to do so.
  • A patient was provided with a specialty commode prescribed by an occupational therapist so she could be home sooner to spend more time with her mother who was ill.
  • Horizon physiotherapists provided a $90 walker to an elderly woman, without a family nearby or a credit card, so that she could leave the hospital before the weekend to enjoy the comforts of her home, and her hospital bed was then freed up for the next patient.
  • A transport wheelchair was provided to a patient with a broken leg so he could heal at home with his family.
  • Immigrant workers who are hospitalized and need crutches or walkers are provided with the right equipment to get them back on their feet. 

For most New Brunswickers, basic adaptive equipment can be purchased through their insurance or on their own. The Department of Social Development’s Mobility and Adaptive Equipment Loan Program (MAELP) helps cover the expense for eligible clients of the Department, and some patients can access equipment on loan through the Canadian Red Cross.

Want to help? Donations to the Canadian Red Cross help offer short-term loans for health equipment.