Families an integral part of Geriatric Day Hospital’s care team

Pulse Story - GDH
Left to right: Gulshan Esmail, Karim Ismail, Hassanali Issmail

For Karim Ismail and his father Hassanali Issmail, meeting the medical needs of older adults goes beyond appointments and consults. It is also about coordinated care, emotional support, and family care.

With its range of Elder Care Services, North York General’s Geriatric Day Hospital checked all the boxes.

 “There were a huge number of challenges the program helped us resolve,” says Karim. “My father needed a wide range of supports including a medication review, support for knee and back pain, as well as emotional support for anger management.”

In addition to these, the Geriatric Day Hospital team helped Hassanali’s family better understand caregiver responsibilities, and how to help with his cognitive decline.

The Geriatric Day Hospital specializes in helping seniors with complex medical needs by addressing everything in one place and with one team. Dr. Patrick Chu, Physician with the Elder Care Program at the Geriatric Day Hospital, explains, “That's why we are different. We are able to offer multiple disciplines in one setting.”

From medically-supervised rehabilitation programs to managing complex medical and psychiatric needs and expediting referrals, the Geriatric Day Hospital prevents unnecessary hospital visits, improves quality of life, and alleviates caregiver burden.

Pulse - GDH2
Front row (left to right): Mary Ellen McGeachie - Recreational Therapist, Janet Oliver - Medical Secretary, Eliz Diaz – Registered Nurse, Greta Mah - Registered Pharmacist, Madona Hanna – Rehabilitation/Physio Assistant, Renee Heitner Physiotherapist. Back row (left to right): Dr. Serina Dai - Physician, Roula Mandas – Social Worker, Savio Vales – HealthCare Attendant Driver, Kristin Collins OT. Not Pictured: Norma McCormack - Clinical Team Manager

Hassanali was first referred to the program in 2018 to address balance issues and Parkinson-like symptoms from the side effects of new medication. Then in 2021, as Hassanali developed additional medical needs, his physician suggested he give the program another shot — this time with his son by his side.

Dr. Chu emphasizes how patients and families work with the Geriatric Day Hospital team on medical plans and track progress together. “The rapport is very important in order to gain trust and see results.” 

The program has enabled Hassanali and his family to better understand his needs, and ways to support him as a unit, alongside the medical team.

When Hassanali asked for a quiet, independent space in his home, Karim worked with his dad to declutter, refashion, and repurpose the second bedroom into a quiet office for his father to use his computer, read and enjoy independence.

Karim notes, “It’s something he articulated in the program, and I jumped on it. I don’t think he knew how to solve the problem, but by working together, we created a great space."

With a trusted and expert team of multidisciplinary health care professionals, ranging from pharmacists, to nurses, dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, social workers and physicians, teamwork is one of the Geriatric Day Hospital’s biggest strengths.

“Staff were super accommodating, deeply experienced in working with the elderly, very sympathetic, and provided extremely compassionate guidance,” Karim says.

 “The doctor is only one member of the team. Without the team, this program is not going to run well. Each and every member of the team contributes significantly, and equally to the success of the program,” adds Dr. Chu.

“The program has helped my dad directly and my mum and parents-in-law indirectly. It has helped me, and my spouse provide better, more fine-tuned, thoughtful care,” says Karim. “We are deeply grateful for the program, which accommodates family involvement in improving the quality of life for my parents in their own home.”

This article first appeared in the December 2021 issue of The Pulse.

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