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  • Making Healthy “GAINs”
    Published September 15, 2015

    Longtime Scarborough resident Alberta Mathews is spreading the news far and wide about the Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network (GAIN) Clinic at The Scarborough Hospital’s General campus, where she was recently a patient.

    Her daughter, Nancy Gan, first read about GAIN in an edition of TSH’s eNewsletter, My Scarborough Hospital, and encouraged her mother to make an appointment. Alberta, a senior, took her daughter’s advice and is very pleased with the results.

    “We have told umpteen people about the GAIN clinic, friends and family too,” she said.

    The GAIN Clinic is a network of coordinated health care services for older adults. An interprofessional team of health care professionals (including nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, pharmacists, personal support workers, dedicated GAIN/Community Care Access Centre Care Coordinators, collaborating geriatricians, and other specialists) provides clinical care and education to ensure the best care for frail older adults and their families.

    Alberta credits GAIN staff for helping her make meaningful improvements to her health and lifestyle. She says the pharmacist arrived prepared with a list of prescription medications from her regular pharmacist and was able to identify an opportunity for change – reducing her blood pressure medication from five pills down to one. The occupational therapist provided a great deal of help for a nagging shoulder injury and recommended a nearby physiotherapy option. Their professionalism and senior-friendly approach made it all the more enjoyable.

    “They really listen,” Alberta says. “And they keep you interested. Although my appointment lasted a couple of hours, and I saw three or four people that morning, they never kept me waiting. The care was revolving; when one person finished their assessment, the next one came right in.”

    At TSH, appointments begin with a geriatric assessment, which is an outpatient appointment and usually takes about two hours. In addition to identifying and treating illnesses, the team looks at many other aspects that may be affecting a senior’s life such as self-care, brain function, physical ability, as well as education and support for care givers.

    In Alberta’s case, one exercise included a GAIN staff member reading a list of names aloud to Alberta, and asking her to repeat them, backwards.

    “I told my friend about the clinic and she made an appointment too,” Alberta shares. “When it came to the list of names, she beat me by one. It’s fun!”

    Alberta wrapped up her appointment on a Saturday afternoon. She was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from her primary physician by 9 a.m. the following Monday, with an offer of a same-day appointment to discuss her GAIN assessment and medications. Never has she been more impressed or amazed with the speed of follow-up in health care.

    “This is such a stellar example of how health care should work – expedient and effective,” says Nancy. ““The Scarborough Hospital … is a centre of excellence and a community gem … We are so very fortunate to have this calibre of care and skill in our community.”

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