Go-Getter soldiers on

Even with painful sores on the heels of his feet, Irvine Thompson soldiers on with restorative care at Avalon Care Centre.

“He’s always willing to come (to exercises) and do everything he can,” says restorative-care co-ordinator Katelyn Burden.

Thompson’s dedication is one of the reasons why he was chosen to be Avalon’s Go-Getter award recipient for January.

The 86-year-old has made progress since coming to the Orangeville long-term care home with mobility challenges from the adjacent retirement lodge. Thompson continues to use a wheelchair but he is now able to stand and bear weight with staff members’ support. Previously, he was using a full lift for transferring.

Burden says Thompson has always been a willing participant in the restorative-care program, which focuses on helping residents to achieve goals for the highest level of functioning and independence as possible.

Thompson not only engages in the seated exercises but even stays for the standing balance portion of the sessions. 

“He’ll stay and follow along in his wheelchair,” restorative-care aide Talitha Trim says. 

“He’s still coming (to exercise) despite the fact his feet are sore,” Burden says, adding Thompson never complains and wears special footwear in place of shoes.

“He’s not discouraged by the fact that he can’t stand whereas other people may be embarrassed and (leave the session),” Burden says. “He stays and, if anything, he’s motivating other people. He’ll make up his own exercises, variations (of the standing balance exercises) to do in his chair.”

Now that Thompson is able to stand and bear weight, the next likely goal would be walking once his feet are healed. 

He was humbled and inspired by the recognition of his positivity and participation in restorative care, Burden says.

Anna Gereczka was equally happy to be the Jarlette Health Services home’s Go-Getter for December, clapping and thumping her chest with pride.

Since receiving the award, she has graduated from restorative care to physiotherapy and more complex movements. Gereczka has achieved her goals with restorative care, strengthening her balance in order to decrease her risk of falling and to maintain her high level of independence. 

When she came to Avalon Care Centre in 2012, Gereczka was a largely independent individual who was walking with a cane. However, she had had a stay in hospital and suffered a few falls. So the goal with restorative care was to maintain Gereczka’s functional independence with such activities as standing balance exercises and walking training.

“We really focus on increasing balance which decreases falls,” Burden says.

Gereczka was enthusiastic and self-motivated from the start. 

“She always asked about exercises and knew when they were,” Burden says, adding Gereczka engaged with a smile and a positive attitude.

Restorative care also benefitted Gereczka, now 95, in other ways. Her first language has presented a bit of a communication challenge but participating in the restorative-care sessions provided an opportunity for physical as well as social stimulation. 

Burden and Trim are delighted to see Gereczka move on to physiotherapy, which supports more high-functioning residents who have really good balance for standing. Gereczka continues to be mobile and highly independent in her daily activities.

“She really has reached any goal we would’ve set for her when it comes to maintaining her functional independence and being able to continue ambulating with a walker,” Burden says. 

In photo: Irvine Thompson and Anna Gereczka