Q&A: Caring and being cared for with dignity

2016-10-26 4:13:52 PM

We sat down with Dr. Vanessa Rambihar, a family physician at WCH’s Family Practice Health Centre, to talk about what older patients and their loved ones can do to ensure they’re receiving the best possible care.
For people caring for aging loved ones, what are some signs to watch out for that their loved one may need medical care?
Changes in personality or mood, a history of falls or fear of falling, or noticing withdrawal from regular social activities are all important signs that patients may benefit from seeking care. Patients and their caregivers should always feel comfortable seeing their primary care provider if they are concerned in any way about their health as health issues become more complex as we age.
Do you have any advice for older patients and their families when it comes to having difficult conversations about health and caregiving arrangements?
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that these conversations are inherently challenging and can take time. My advice would be that it is never too early to reflect on the values that are important to you, and start the conversation with your family, caregivers and healthcare provider regarding your goals of care and wishes for your future.
When it comes to providing care for older patients, what is unique about WCH’s approach?
The biggest strength of WCH’s Family Practice is its interdisciplinary team-based approach offered to patients and caregivers. In addition to family physicians, a wide variety of specialists – including pharmacists, a geriatric nurse, occupational therapists, dieticians, nurse practitioners, social workers and more – work together to help our older patients maintain their quality of life as they navigate the complexities of aging.

What are some resources that patients and their families can access if they have questions about care options and the health system?
Primary care providers are a great first point of contact for accessing care as well as services in the community for both patients and caregivers. WCH’s Family Practice has a nurse specializing in geriatric care who has a wealth of experience coordinating care. She will meet with patients and their caregivers to determine areas in which we can better support health and independence.
If you’re interested in learning more about WCH’s programs for older patients or how you or a loved one can register as a patient at WCH’s Family Practice Health Centre, call 416-323-6060.
This article was originally published in the fall 2016 issue of our Heart & Soul donor newsletter. For more content like this, subscribe to the Foundation’s monthly e-newsletter. You’ll receive regular updates, top headlines and impactful stories about how your support is making a difference.