When Mrs. Gertrude Naquin came to Maison Teche Nursing Center, she had been discharged from Lafayette General following three months in ICU after open heart surgery and being diagnosed with pneumonia. She entered the facility recovering from a tracheotomy and PEG tube, unable to move, walk, and talk. Mrs. Gertrude, along with her family, had a goal of her returning home so therapy was where her journey started.
Ms. Gertrude began physical, occupational, and speech therapy but did not make dramatic improvements at first. She was placed on a functional maintenance program for daily walking while the therapy team would assess her progress to see when she would be ready to dive back in to more intense treatments. Although it took time for her body to become strong enough to begin more rigorous therapy interventions, Mrs. Gertrude’s persistent mindset became her greatest asset.
To this day, her optimistic outlook is her best advice for others at the beginning of a rehab journey, she says, “Always try your hardest and whatever you do, do not give up.”
The therapy journey
As Mrs. Gertrude progressed with endurance, she was able to participate in functional activities for physical therapy, such as transfer training, stair training, and dynamic standing tasks. Mrs. Gertrude’s physical therapist, Karleigh, recalls her making it very clear from the beginning that her personal goal was to dance again. The therapists made sure to incorporate dance into her treatment sessions by working on weight shifting, side stepping, and turning.
Her journey with occupational therapy started with addressing the tasks of basic activities of daily living, such as upper and lower body dressing, grooming, toileting and fine motor skills. With progression, she was able to participate in higher level tasks such as light housekeeping chores, which included washing dishes and folding clothes, in order to return home at a safe level.
Mrs. Gertrude participated in skilled speech therapy services to address swallowing, as she was initially on a PEG tube. Her final goal was to be able to upgrade to a regular diet. She also worked on safety in the home, both short and long term memory, direction following, and listening/comprehension skills to improve her ability to function upon returning home.
Karleigh says, “Mrs. Gertrude was a pleasure to work with and made therapy fun. She loved participating in any activities that involved cooking or baking, which used her cognitive abilities to improve her sequencing skills. It was obvious how much she was loved as she was voted Mardi Gras Queen! Mrs. Gertrude is a true testament to the statement “hard work pays off.”
In the beginning, the odds were against Mrs. Gertrude due to a complicated medical history that left her in a very fragile state emotionally, physically, and cognitively. With involved family support, self determination, a caring nursing staff, and strong therapists, Mrs. Gertrude knew that the team around her had the same goal as her own: to get her independent enough to return home to live alone.
Not every therapy episode of care follows a straight, smooth path. Sometimes, there are curves, twists, and road blocks that interfere with the projected finish line. But as a therapist in the skilled nursing facility setting, it is imperative to be flexible and modify the patient’s plan of care to allow for success. This was the case with Ms. Gertrude. She was able to graduate once from our therapy program upon completing her short term goals. Whenever she was more medically stable and able to handle more rigorous therapy interventions, Ms. Gertrude re-entered therapy to work on higher level tasks and was able to graduate a second time–this time, she was able to return home to her family and to her other love-dancing!
For more stories like this, visit the success story section of our blog!
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