Norma’s road to recovery

Staff members

On her last day at Baycrest, many staff members gathered round to wish Norma (centre) well. Pictured from left to right: Joanna Schechter, physiotherapist, SSR; Alanna Weill, occupational therapist, ICCT; Hedda Zahavi, physiotherapist, ICCT; Tanya Aggett, physiotherapist, DTC; Shirley Lee, occupational therapist, DTC. Missing from photo: Allison Rinne, occupational therapist, SSR unit.

Independent and active for most of her 72 years, Norma Cuisia awoke one day in June 2013 unable to move. She was admitted to a local hospital, received treatment and underwent spinal surgery, but experienced several complications. She was transferred to a convalescent home, and then received ineffective rehabilitation treatment at another healthcare facility. “It was so hard,” says Norma, “I felt very bad.” Although she looked forward to going home, when she arrived there, she had limited support. She was unable to get around her apartment or care for herself, only receiving home care in the mornings and evenings. “I couldn’t get out of bed or to the bathroom. I had to wait for a long time for help,” says Norma.

She was referred to Baycrest’s Integrated Community Care Team (ICCT), whose therapists immediately recognized her need for extensive rehabilitation. “She believed in herself so much; we knew that with the proper care, her overall functioning could improve significantly,” says Alanna Weill, occupational therapist. The team advocated on Norma’s behalf and she was admitted to the Slow Stream Rehabilitation unit at Baycrest. “When I was transferred to Baycrest, I was not walking,” Norma says. The hospital rehab team worked with Norma to set modest goals, including getting in and out of bed, and to the washroom on her own. Norma tackled her exercise program with intensity and noticed “a big change” in not only her physical health, but her mood as well. After extensive rehabilitation that focused on regaining her independence, Norma was able to go home. The SSR and ICCT teams ensured that Norma received a new custom wheelchair, which enabled her to get around at home and in the community. Norma’s daughter, Angelie, says “Baycrest has been a big help to us.”

Norma continued to diligently work on and achieve many of her functional goals during her time at the Day Treatment Clinic here. She has become more independent in all aspects of her daily living. On her last day, many staff who have had a part in her care came out to wish her well. Rehabilitation can be a very slow road to recovery, but thanks to the hard work and advocacy of our community, in-patient and out-patient teams, plus Norma’s spirit and dedication to her own care, her story has a happy ending. Norma says she can now do “almost all the things” she used to do. Her favourite thing to do is to visit the makeup counters at Yorkdale Mall; something she couldn’t have done a year ago. Norma says a warm “thank you” to all the Baycrest staff who have helped her on this journey.