Rehabilitation: Family consultations is the way to go

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Epworth makes consultation with patients and their families a priority to raise the standard of care

A focus on improving rehabilitation programs at Melbourne’s Epworth HealthCare has resulted in an increase in team planning that includes meetings and briefings with patients, their families and their important social contacts.

Recognising the devastating effect of severe illness or traumatic injury on families and friends as well as the patients, multidisciplinary care teams go to great lengths to arrange meetings where everyone can contribute to plans for the future care and rehabilitation of the patient. For example, at Epworth’s Transitional Living Centre (TLC) in Thornbury, family consultations have always played a big role in developing programs for patients attending the unique residential program.

TLC was established nearly 25 years ago for patients with severe brain injury. In that time, it has created individual patient programs for more than 400 people – helping them return to independent and productive living.

Manager Helen Harrington says TLC’s success is thanks to dedicated staff and families, as well as organisations like the Salvation Army and the Keilor Rotary Club, who all those years ago, understood the need to create something different from a hospital setting for brain-injury patients in their long road towards independent living.

“Whole communities benefit when families are supported in their care of an injured family member. A testament to the great team work and successful personal outcomes for residents is that many volunteer to work with new residents to share their relearning and recovery experiences – even years after they have completed their stay there,” Ms Harrington added.

There are other areas across the rehabilitation sites, where patient care teams are guided by former and current patient views to help improve the programs they run. During 2013, a group of breast cancer patients undergoing rehabilitation at Epworth Camberwell were integral in shaping a program that addressed their physical, psychological and social needs. At the end of the first eight-week program, the patient group not only reported an improved confidence in their physical activities, but said they found a new and unexpected enthusiasm to return to their previous lifestyles because the sense of isolation that they had experienced earlier in their illness had diminished.

By Fiona Gerrard and Colleen Coghlan

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