Hi everyone! It's Home and Happy's founder here, Dr. Dana Robbins. I'm going to talk about my motivation and the big why behind this nonprofit. Back in 2019, when the thought of a pandemic was preposterous, I graduated with my doctorate in physical therapy. I knew I always wanted to work with the older adult population and was able to find a job that allowed me to work with them in an acute setting (hospital), a short-term setting (rehab) and a long-term setting (nursing home). I quickly learned the hardest part of this job in these settings. It wasn't the physical lifting or transferring of a patient but the mental and emotional aspect. These settings, particularly the acute and short-term, is where the hard conversations happen.
As a PT, we work very closely with other therapists, nurses, hospitalists and social workers to determine when a patient can be discharged safely and to where. We PT's take into account your ability to perform necessary transfers, ambulation distances, stairs etc. Other disciplines are looking at how independently you can dress, bathe, your home set up, your support group and of course your medical stability. We work very closely with families and the patient to determine where their placement goal is. Most of the time, this is back home. Often, this goal is not achieved.
Picture this, you had a stroke with some other complications and could barely roll in bed when you first arrived to the hospital. Those pesky therapists kept bothering you and made you move even though it was the last thing you wanted. But you did, and you got better. You went from not being able to sit at the edge of the bed without help, to going up and down the 5 steps to get into your house with just some extra support and a cane. Your insurance is about to cut you off from this type of rehab because you know, insurance just has the best timing. You have made it leaps and bounds since you came into the hospital but still need a little help with far walks, making sure your steady when you're in the bathroom and making your meals. But you live alone. You have lived alone for the past 10 years in the house you raised all of your kids in and you don't want to go anywhere else. But, us on the discharge team and your family know you need 24/7 care, 2 new pieces of equipment and some remodeling in your bathroom to make it safer and more accessible. Your kids can't provide all of this because it is costly and you don't want them to give up their own lives and savings. You checked with your insurance and they will only cover one piece of equipment, 12 hours of home services a week and nothing of the necessary remodel.
So, what now? You haven't been home in over 4 weeks and it is the one place you want to return to. You want to go back and sleep in your own bed, sit in our favorite chair and continue with your daily routine as you had for the past 10 years.
This situation occurs much more than you think. It happened a lot more than I ever thought it would. At this time, the only other option is to go to an assistive living facility or a long term care facility. This was often times very difficult for patient's to understand. It is difficult for them to understand they most likely will never see their home again and that the decision was made solely for their safety and preservation of care. The days I had to have these conversations with patient's were my bad days. I would leave rooms with tears in my eyes and sometimes cry on my long drive home. These humans deserve another choice. They deserve to return back home and live their best lives possible. I created this nonprofit to be another option. For people to be able to make a compromise while not sacrificing quality of care. Not only are we helping older adults in the community, our friends or family but, we are helping create a better future for YOU when you find yourself with this life altering decision.
In all honesty, I find a new "why" every day in my career, in my family and in my community. My story above, was my initial why and my motivation. I will keep finding why's and keep working towards improving the probability of older adult's returning home again until my time is up.