ECH Keep Connected

Jan’s Journey Back to Independence

“I can be a very determined person,” says Jan smiling across at her husband Bill.

In February, Jan woke in the night unable to talk, walk, or get out of bed. She had experienced a major stroke and shortly after arriving at the hospital her husband Bill was advised to think about arrangements for Residential Care and he was advised it was unlikely Jan would ever return home.

Jan spent three weeks in the Royal Adelaide Hospital followed by seven weeks in the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre. She had one clear goal in mind – to get back home. “I kept telling the staff I had to get home for my granddaughter’s 21st birthday party. With the help of a TCP with ECH, I did get home and I went to her party!” says Jan.

ECH arranged for Jan to return home with a Transitional Care Package offering a range of support including Personal Care, Exercise Physiology, Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy.

Bill and Jan have been married for 54 years, and Bill has been at Jan’s side for every step of her recovery.

“The Transitional Care from ECH was brilliant,” says Bill. “Before Jan even came home, I sent photos to an ECH Occupational Therapist of our chairs, bed, bathroom and garden – everywhere Jan walked around our home – so they could begin assessing if we needed handrails or other changes.

“Our first appointment with ECH was at 12:30pm on the day Jan was discharged from hospital, as we arrived home, ECH was already here helping us. I cannot thank the staff enough for the support they have provided to aid Jan’s recovery.”

ECH Allied Health Assistant Caleb Renshaw says Transitional Care Packages are an important step for people who want to improve their health after a traumatic physical experience like a stroke.

“It’s really the second step in rehab,” says Caleb. “It’s all about improving quality of life and independence and helping people to reach their goals.”

“Jan wanted to be able to do what she did before, help out around the home and cook with her husband and we’ve helped her achieve that,” he said.

Before the stroke Jan and Bill were busy retirees, helping in their church, sailing, doing pilates and spending time with friends and family. On the weekend before Jan’s stroke, the couple – who used to run a bakery – cooked 700 pancakes for a church fundraiser.

To go from that to Jan being unable to walk and talk was very hard for the couple.

“There were times when I just felt so disheartened,” says Jan. “But the staff at ECH were so encouraging.

I remember when I met the ECH Speech Pathologist and she was so confident. She said ‘This can be fixed. We just need to retrain your brain’, and that encouraged me to keep trying.”

“I also remember one of the ECH Exercise Physiologists was always challenging me,” she says laughing.

“She would always make me do more and try harder.”

For ECH staff like Caleb, it is incredibly satisfying to see clients achieve their goals.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had, helping people and making a real difference to their lives, it’s great,” he said.

At the end of Jan’s TCP, ECH arranged for her to continue therapy as an outpatient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Today Jan is able to speak well, walk unaided and even do the housework. Jan is extremely proud of what she has achieved, far exceeding the initial prediction that she would not live independently again.

“The plan now is to keep doing more and more for myself and becoming more independent,” says Jan. “My big goal is to get back to driving, which can take quite a while but I’m hopeful I’ll achieve it.”

In the short-term, Bill and Jan are just grateful to be living at home together and looking forward to spending Christmas with their family.

TCP is there to assist people who may have experienced a stroke or a serious fall, and that may need extra support in order to return home and reach the same level of independence as before their hospitalisation.