Runnymede Healthcare Centre’s low tolerance long duration rehabilitation program
Bridge the gap
At the start of their rehab journey, patients often feel uncertain about their next steps and wonder how they will ever be able to resume their life in the community.
To help ease these concerns, Runnymede Healthcare Centre’s Low Tolerance Long Duration (LTLD) Rehab program’s Patient Flow Department, which supports all incoming patients, has introduced an innovative admissions coordinator role. The program helps people restore their mobility following an injury or surgery, and the admissions coordinator role is designed to support families and incoming patients who need help in bridging the gap between acute care and home.
In fact, to get a head start on the process and reduce admission anxiety, the team has found that it is most effective to open lines of communication before a patient enters hospital for their ongoing rehabilitation. “When patients are being transferred from acute care to a rehabilitation hospital like ours, it can be overwhelming,” says Sharleen Ahmed, Runnymede’s vice president of strategy, quality and clinical programs. “Our hospital’s patient flow team has proven that guiding families through the process by assigning one contact person an admissions coordinator to each patient prior to their admission to answer questions and address their concerns is important.”
The admissions coordinator
Unique to Runnymede, the admissions coordinator strengthens the hospital’s delivery of patient-centred care, simplifies communication and builds trust. When reaching out to patients or family members, the coordinator reduces anxiety by laying out a vision of what rehabilitation at Runnymede will look like. They discuss how long rehab is expected to take, and the clinical outcomes the patient can anticipate. Coordinators also introduce patients to existing community resources to ensure they continue to thrive after discharge.
A recent example of this involves a patient who had experienced a nasty fall at home. After two months in an acute care hospital, the patient’s condition had improved but he was still at risk if he returned to living independently.
“The staff at the acute care hospital informed the patient and his family that admission to LTLD Rehab was what he really needed to support his continued recovery,” recalls Lisa Dreher, Runnymede’s patient flow manager. “A bed was available at our facility within days, but the patient’s family didn’t understand the program and, because of the patient’s limited abilities, didn’t feel he could make progress. They didn’t realize how we could help.”
After the patient flow team walked the patient and his family through the process and explained the supports that would be available after discharge, they changed their minds. “The patient was admitted and after two months in LTLD Rehab, his strength and independence had progressed rapidly,” says Dreher. “To our delight he was able to return home, and his family works with community agencies to ensure the right supports are in place.
Placing patients in the centre
Dreher admits that, at times, the health care system can seem overwhelming. By addressing patients’ and families’ concerns about navigating the system through the admissions coordinator role, it places them at the centre of their own decision-making.
“We never lose sight of the fact that every patient who comes through our doors is new,” says Ahmed. “They might have questions, and are concerned. Our patient flow team and our admissions coordinators are prime examples of how we always do our best to find new ways of addressing patients’ concerns and empowering them to continue their recovery journey once they leave us to return home.
Runnymede Healthcare Centre’s patient flow manager, Lisa Dreher
(right), collaborates with interprofessional team members to facilitate admissions.