Listening to clients and their families
Kath* had lived by herself in the family home since her husband passed away 10 years ago, and was becoming a bit forgetful. Her four children were worried about their mum.
Daughter Jacqui organised all of Kath’s medical appointments and the services she received using the government’s home care package. Jacqui called In-Home Physio SA to see if Wenika could help her mother.
“I want a home exercise program for mum,” Jacqui said over the phone. “I want her to get moving more. And when she walks she bends over the walker so much – I keep telling her to stand up straight but she keeps leaning over it.” A worried Jacqui wanted to help her mother but thought Kath wasn’t listening.
Wenika visited Kath at home when she was there by herself. The 81-year-old said she was suffering from niggling lower back pain – it was always there, no matter what she was doing. Standing and walking made it worse.
“No wonder Kath kept leaning over the walker – it eased the back pain,” Wenika said. “She was generally active and was still doing all the housework. She said she had tried to walk straighter, as suggested by her daughter, but she just couldn’t do it. Actually, she wasn’t so sure why – she just felt tired and wanted to bend over.”
Wenika assessed Kath and saw she had an increased spinal curve in the lower lumbar area. “It sat forward much more than the average person,” she said. “Kath had had four children and was never given any core exercises or advice from a physiotherapist during her childbearing years. All of these issue, plus the ageing process, led to this constant pain. Her muscle tone around the lumbar area was hard, like a rock.”
What happened next
Wenika explained to Jacqui why her mother couldn’t just stand up straight when reminded.
“I thought they both needed to understand where each other was coming from, to reduce unnecessary tension,” the physio said.
“My first two visits were targeted at reducing Kath’s pain and strengthening the core muscles. I gave simple movements to Kath to practise, and gave her a printout with pictures for her to follow.”
Wenika and Jacqui asked the carer who took Kath shopping to remind her to do her physio exercises. After a while, Kath even joined a local keep fit class.
“Everyone’s feelings and concerns are valid,” Wenika said. “It wasn’t easy for Jacqui to try to be a carer while she was still working. Trying to understand the My Aged Care system and what funding is available is hard. If I can make that process easier for my clients and their carers, I will.”