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In Long Term Care, A Health Team Approach Helps People Be Their Best

By Author: Don Winesse
Total Articles: 5

In Long Term Care, a Health Team Approach Helps People Be Their Best For people in long term care, the best experience results from a true team approach. Along with the resident and their family, every member of the care team brings his or her own skills and knowledge, but all complement each other to help people manage a chronic condition, injury or illness. A typical long term care residence will have a Director of Care, who works closely with the whole team. The Director of Care will create a customized care plan for each individual. There are a number of other care providers who may be part of an individual's care team. Just four of them include nursing staff, occupational therapists, dieticians or nutritionists and physiotherapists. . Nursing care can include wound and ostomy care to avoid infection and foster healing; respiratory therapy; catheter care; intravenous therapy; foot care; administering medication; and some activities of daily living (e.g. toileting, feeding). For complex conditions and diseases, nurses can offer not only ongoing care but the education (around diabetes, for example) that helps people make important lifestyle changes and take control of their health. Another key nursing role is collaborating with other health care professionals. Long term care has many dimensions. For instance, some people have lost the ability to carry out certain daily tasks. That can happen due to all sorts of developmental, physical, neurological and psychiatric issues. Here's where occupational therapists (OTs) are invaluable. OTs can teach life skills, and help people acquire or re-acquire the skills to handle any number of activities. As part of their work, OTs also assess the person's environment, and can recommend equipment that makes life a little easier. That can include mobility aids, or other useful devices to accomplish routine tasks or add to safety. The roles of various professionals overlap in long term care. For example, nurses might help people use some equipment and devices that OTs prescribe. Meanwhile, similar to OTs, physiotherapists can support people in becoming as active as possible. Because of a wide variety of conditions - the lingering effects of a stroke, a knee or hip replacement, broken bones, a disability and other impairments - people can face a prolonged recovery period. Physiotherapists work with people during this time to extend range of motion, improve muscle strength, and increase coordination and balance. All of these treatment programs help people to handle activities and function at their best. Physiotherapists have an even broader impact, by helping people manage or prevent pain, and by improving general health and fitness. Some people who require physiotherapy may also need speech language pathology. Speech language pathologists are experts in evaluating these issues, and treating and educating people so they can communicate and eat as effectively as possible. Food comes into play in long term care in several other ways. As a rule, people need to be smart about what they eat, so they can live and age well. More than that, food is a big part of dealing with many health problems. Beyond medication, diet can help with things like high blood pressure, diabetes or osteoporosis. This is where nutritionists and dietitians add to the care team. They help people to understand their nutritional needs and challenges, and then make the right food choices that support their health. In long term care, many of the issues that people are dealing with are not just physical but social and emotional too. That makes social workers yet another vital partner care. Social workers can work with you one-on-one, offer family support, provide connections to community services, and help assess any gaps in your support. Long term care is a collective effort. By understanding how various professionals can add to care and recovery, you can benefit from a strategy that addresses all areas of your health and well-being.

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