Gordon's occupational therapy journey to home

	Gordon sat down with OT Amy and carpenter Kingsley stood behind
Gordon, OT Amy and carpenter Kingsley
October 22, 2021

September 2021 is a month 81-year-old Gordon Tristham will not forget in a hurry as it was the month he was admitted to Rockingham General Hospital’s (RGH) Aged Care Rehabilitation Unit (ACRU) for four weeks following a sudden decline in his mobility.

Gordon was diagnosed a degenerative condition where the spinal column narrows and compresses the spinal cord, and this was causing weakness and numbness in his arms and legs.  

For nearly two years and despite the deterioration in his mobility and strength, Gordon and his wife tried desperately to cope at home, without the proper equipment or knowing that he could get help.

But then the situation became unsafe and stressful, and staying at home was no longer an option.

Gordon said he remembers the day he had to go to hospital vividly.

“I was scared, and I felt like there was little hope,” Gordon said.

“I wondered if I would ever be able to go back to living with my wife of 50 years that I love, and to my beautiful home and garden.”

During his stay at the ACRU, Gordon met Occupational Therapist Amy Duffield who he says changed his life. 

Amy worked with a physiotherapist as well as other allied health and medical professionals to optimise Gordon’s function and achieve his goal of returning home.

“Gordon was an amazing patient, he was very strong-willed and determined to get home,” Amy said.

“His loving wife Andrea was also a huge support and worked with me to achieve his goals.”

Over four weeks Gordon put in the hard work to build strength and work with specialised equipment that would make his mobility easier and safer.

Amy spent time training and building Gordon’s and Andrea’s confidence in using the various pieces of equipment Gordon would need when he returned home.

It was important to replicate the home experience as much as possible during Gordon’s stay in the ACRU, for example using gripping wraps for cups and cutlery to make using his hands as easy as possible.

For Gordon the game changer was the Sara Steady – a standing and raising aid – which made transferring from bed to a chair, and from bed to the toilet, possible without fear of falling.

Gordon said it was these small things that made a big difference in his ability and dignity.

“Amy’s method of training and knowledge of how to tailor it to my needs was incredible,” Gordon said.

“Her confidence gave me confidence! I finally felt like this could be the answer in going home and having my wife help me.

“At the end of the four weeks, the possibility of returning to my beautiful home became a reality.”

A significant part of the Gordon’s journey was an assessment by Amy of the family home. With the support of RGH’s carpenter Kingsley Purvis to install ramps and make furniture modifications, the family home was ready for Gordon’s return.

This Occupational Therapy week (25 October to 31 October 2021), Gordon acknowledges the wonderful care and treatment he was given by Amy and the whole team at RGH. They made his transition home possible including being able to watch the AFL Grand Final at home with his wife and family.

“As I sit here looking out at my garden, I am so very grateful for occupational therapy and the care I received at Rockingham General Hospital. There are challenges ahead but I know facing them in my own home is now achievable,” Gordon said.

Gordon is now working with RGH's Rehabilitation in the Home service to optimise his function and independence in his home.

Keep up to date with our news and achievements

Text reads Follow SMHS on Facebook @SouthMetropolitanHealthService