Beginning in April, Glenmeadow began contracting with HealthPRO, a national health care company, and since then, a team of physical and occupational therapists has come here to offer services on site to our residents.
“I’m here for them,” says Katrina Francis, the rehab program director from HealthPRO, who also offers physical therapy. “My job is to help residents in understanding their needs and accomplishing their goals.”
Katrina says word has gotten out that she and Karen Tremble are offering convenient services right on our campus. Katrina offers physical therapy, and Karen has knowledge on speech and communication disorders and swallowing issues. (Soon, an occupational therapist will also join the team.)
Residents are telling their friends success stories about working with Katrina and Karen, and they’re sending their friends to the women for help. “It’s easy to just drop by and see me,” Katrina says. “Their motivation to seek therapy is heightened because I’m just down the hall.”
Katrina says residents need help with such things as balance, bathing, and dressing. They are learning not that they have limitations but that there are many areas in which they can still strengthen and grow. “We work closely with people who have goals on balance and strengthening and with people who are having trouble walking, or need their walker assessed as to whether it’s the most appropriate device,” she explains.
To get started, Katrina does a physical exam and evaluates a resident’s balance, strength, and gait. Then, together, they come up with a plan to manage the pressing issues and work together toward the personalized goals. “We also talk about what they want to do next—maybe continue with exercise at the gym or with a personal trainer,” Katrina says. “We talk about what to focus on for their bodies.”
Katrina is helping residents understand that many of their physical problems have solutions.
“Changes that happen as people age aren’t always a result of aging,” she explains. “For example, someone might come to me and talk about how it’s becoming more difficult for them to stand or walk. They’ll assume this is their new normal—that they’re aging and they need a walker. What I offer instead is that they simply need strengthening therapy.”
Sometimes modifications to a walker, or in a resident’s apartment, are the answer, says Katrina, who holds a bachelor’s in health science and a doctorate degree in physical therapy, both from Quinnipiac University in Hampden, Connecticut.
In addition to offering one-on-one consults and care, Katrina and Karen are also offering group lectures each month on the first Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in Cotz Hall. Each has a focus on different aspects of therapy and health, such as nutrition or meditation.
The August presentation was called “Defying Gravity,” and it served as a falls clinic so that residents can assess their risk of falling and take measures to decrease it. The next session in September is “Learning on the Move,” on the connection between movement and the brain.
“Our hope is that, because we’re addressing these issues, the worries that usually come with them will fade,” says Katrina. “We’re providing peace of mind. We’re always here no matter what they need.”