Community health nurses Mai-Ling Brunoro, Stacey Wight, and Gagan Jhooty are part of the Langley Home Health. (Special to Advance Times)

Community health nurses Mai-Ling Brunoro, Stacey Wight, and Gagan Jhooty are part of the Langley Home Health. (Special to Advance Times)

Nurses teaming up to keep seniors at home longer

Langley Home Health includes a squad of community health nurses who live by the motto ‘Home is best’

Keeping seniors in their own homes for as long as safely possible is a priority for the team of nurses at Langley Home Health (LHH).

Both seniors and people with disabilities are – for the most part – better off mentally and physically at home versus in an institutional setting, explained Stacey Wight, a full-time registered nurse with Fraser Health’s community health division for 15 years.

“If we keep them at home, people often do much better,” Wight elaborated.

Working with both the clients and their families, the team endeavours to assist in keeping them at home for as long as safely possible. Safely being the operative word, she noted.

That might include having support workers come in as often as four times a day to help with hands-on personal care such as getting in and out of bed, toileting, dressing, eating, showering, dressing wounds, etc., said Mai-Ling Brunoro, who has worked as an RN for 16 years, the last three at LHH.

She went on to explain how the team is made up a multi-disciplined personnel including dietitians, physio and occupational therapists, social workers, palliative care specialists, and the primary community health care nurses like herself, Wight, and Gagan Jhooty. The trio came together to explain the LHH’s role in the community.

In addition to these services, the team also provides referrals to other agencies and organization – as needed – such as Meals on Wheels, respite, daily pharmacy visits for meds and/or testing, subsidized housekeeping, or even adult daycare where people with dementia can get socialization and cognitive stimulation, said Jhooty.

“We work with the motto, ‘Home is Best,’ added Jhooty, who’s been with the team full-time for four years.

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At present, the team is helping keep more than 700 to 800 clients a month in the Langleys at home – and that number is rapidly growing, said Jhooty, one of 10 full-time and five part-time registered nurses on the team.

While seniors 70 years and older make up about 80 per cent of the LHH clientele, Brunoro explained that anyone disabled and 19 years or older can potentially qualify for the in-home services, as well.

It’s a more holistic approach to health care that looks at caring for the person day to day, not just while they’re in a gown in a hospital bed, receiving treatment for just one area of concern, said Wight.

This team approach to a person’s care allows LHH to get to know the individual and accurately assess all their needs.

“Often, you’re their lifeline,” she added, heralding this approach to the old-fashioned style of nursing in the home.

“Our goal is to try to keep seniors and people with disabilities in the community, in their home, as opposed to going into the hospital or a long-term care/residential care setting,” Wight reiterated.

“Also, our goal is to support families in the community, so that they’re able to assist their loved ones to stay home,” she noted, recognizing supporting for the caregivers is also critical to the at-home equation.

While this community care approach has been around for 25-years plus, the demand for the service has increased tremendously in recent years – as has the local aging population.

Anyone can make a referral to home health – whether that be a hospital, doctor, friend, family member, or neighbour.

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A person in need can simply calls 1-855-412-2121, and the process begins. Those who are seeking potential home support are then assessed for needs, and the team goes to work, Jhooty said.

“We have quite a significant number of clients in our care,” said Wight, noting that each RN has a case load of between 60 to 80 clients at a time, with an average of two new calls a day coming in.

“No one know about us and what we do in the community, unfortunately, until they need us… it’s a very amazing resource,” Wight concluded.

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