Toronto Western Hospital

Wellness Program One Stop Service for Seniors

Mrs. W came to the Seniors' Wellness Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) believing she could no longer take care of herself and that it was time to move to a retirement home. Three months later, having completed the clinic's wellness program, the 78-year-old woman had changed her mind. She was now much better able to manage her chronic health problems and deal with her psychosocial and financial issues. She had learned how to exercise and eat properly. And, previously isolated and lonely, she had
made new friends.

In her letter of thanks to the hospital, Mrs. W described the Clinic's wellness program as “lovely get-togethers” for her and the 11 other seniors who were in her group. “Just think, 12 women in this city are grateful to these younger women who did make us feel better than our age,” she wrote.

The “younger women” she refers to are members of the interdisciplinary team that delivers the Seniors' Wellness Program. The team includes a care-of-the-elderly physician, a clinical nurse specialist, a dietitian, a social worker, a registered nurse, a cognitive behavioural therapist, a psychologist, a physiotherapist, a pharmacist, a psychologist, and an occupational therapist.
(UHN's Seniors' Health Program covers health issues important to seniors.)

The program, which is offered at TWH and other sites in the community, including community centres and seniors’ residences, promotes and supports independence, well-being and healthy aging to an ethnically diverse seniors population in West Toronto. Services are culturally and linguistically sensitive. For example, professional interpreters are used and educational materials are targeted to individuals with low literacy skills.
(See UHN's Seniors' Health page for related information, brochures and pamphlets.)

Referral services
Seniors referred to the program undergo a comprehensive assessment not confined to their medical needs but including their social, financial, nutritional, and stress management needs. If they need individualized care or counseling, seniors are referred to the appropriate wellness team member or service. In addition to the one-on-one care, 16 weekly group education sessions are provided.

Topics cover a wide range, including healthy eating and sleeping, stress management, being safe at home, immunization, advice, disease self-management, foot care and skin care, the safe use of medications, community and financial resources — even power of attorney and wills.
(See a list of Support and Information Groups.)

When she was discharged, referrals were made on her behalf to hearing, eye and dental clinics as well as social and recreational programs in the community. “Some seniors have concerns that they are sometimes too scared to tell their doctor,” said Kitty Mak, a nurse with the wellness program. “They would prefer to get their care in the community, in an environment where they feel comfortable.”

Dietitian Rory Agellon agrees: “Seniors get reliable and individualized information here. We build a good rapport with them. At the end of the program, they don't want to leave.”

The Patient Education Network offers information and resources on a wide range of topics.
For upcoming events, visit UHN's Patient Education Calendar.

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