From trauma care to living at home, with support

Barb and husband Mike share a laugh.

By Tamara Gilley

Barb and her husband Mike’s lives changed forever in a moment one day in August 2014 when a motor vehicle crash left Barb with a traumatic brain injury and in need of intensive care.

After spending two months at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, Barb was transferred to Soldiers Memorial Hospital (SMH) in Middleton in October of 2014, a place she called home for several months.

Since then, Barb has been the recipient of care from many parts of Nova Scotia’s health care system. 

For the team at SMH, Barb’s brain injury was not typical of their patient population, as many of their patients require seniors care. This created opportunities for the team to be creative and provide care in different ways. “I think a lot of people complain about the health care system,” shared Mike. “But when it really matters, like after the crash, from that first responder and on, Barb has had phenomenal care.”

Jodi Goudey, an occupational therapist (OT) and lead on Barb’s care team, says the entire team at SMH was open-minded and flexible in order to support Barb.

Barb has also been at the centre of her own care, supported by an interprofessional team whose focus has been on reaching Barb’s goal “to go home.”

This team includes physicians, OTs, physiotherapists, rehabilitation assistants, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, recreation, dietitians and discharge planners. Together, they provide a supportive environment to help her recovery in cognitive skills, functional performance and quality of life. Jodi worked with Barb to develop a daily routine that included self-care, leisure and productive activities while creating meaningful opportunities for her to participate in at the hospital.

Barb could often be found in the occupational therapy kitchen reclaiming her skills in cooking by making cupcakes or perogies with her daughter, or cooking chicken noodle soup from scratch.

Mike recalls the day he received a call from Goudey while at work.

“She called to tell me that supper was ready and to pick it up on my way home, so the kids and I could have some of Barb’s cooking. It was a great day for all of us.”

Sue Johnson, from shipping and receiving, has even taken Barb under her wing in an effort to provide meaningful activities like stocking shelves and delivering supplies. These tasks have helped to improve her social and cognitive skills. Throughout this journey, Barb has never lost her sense of humor, even joking about some improvement she could see making in the shipping and receiving department.

This December marked a huge milestone for Barb in her journey. Christmas Eve was the first time since August 2014 that Barb was able to sleep in her own bed overnight.

Barb is now transitioning home, with supports, achieving her goal. Her journey still includes going to a transitional rehabilitation centre in Lunenburg County as she continues to make progress.

“Barb and her husband are part of the family at SMH and we want to thank them for helping our team grow stronger,” said Goudey.  “We are all so excited for Barb to take these next steps in her journey.”