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Halifax woman achieves positive health results at home

A woman wearing a red plaid shirt with a walker stands with another woman wearing a black and white shirt and black pants.

Margaret (Peggy) Buckle’s warm and cheerful smile reveals how happy she is living with her daughter in Halifax. However, achieving this has taken determination by Peggy and her daughter as well as support from a community of healthcare team members to enable her to return home following an extended hospital stay.

Peggy lived most of her life in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador; but over the past number of years, to escape the harsher weather in her home province, she began spending winters in Halifax with her daughter. Last year, during her annual visit, the 78-year-old mother, grandmother and great grandmother experienced a series of falls. The increase in falls was due in part to a hereditary neurological condition, Cerebral Spinal Ataxia, that affects her balance, coordination and speech.

In April 2023, after a particularly bad fall, she spent three months at the Veteran’s Memorial Hospital’s Restorative Care Unit in Halifax. Although nothing was broken, Peggy experienced significant pain and limited mobility. Part of her care plan included regular visits from the hospital’s physiotherapy and occupational therapy teams.

Long-term care was offered as an option by the healthcare team for discharge. However, Peggy’s daughter, Susan Waterman, collaborated with the Nova Scotia Health Continuing Care hospital-based care coordinator to seek home options to meet her mother’s needs.

In early July, Peggy was discharged from hospital and returned home with her family. Through Continuing Care, Peggy was connected to a government-funded home care agency. “I am so grateful that I spoke to the hospital-based care coordinator because it made me realize we had a choice for Mom to come home rather than transfer to long-term care”, said Susan.

When Peggy was discharged from hospital, the hospital therapy team referred Peggy to Community Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, a Nova Scotia Health Continuing Care Program. A home visit was completed soon after Peggy returned home by Allanna Jost (occupational therapist) and Emma Hutchinson (physiotherapist) with Continuing Care.

“Initially we visited Peggy regularly at home,” said Allana and Emma. “We collaborated extensively with the family, the home support agency and the rehabilitation assistant with Community Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. To further support Peggy, we accessed multiple programs through Continuing Care including the Red Cross Bed Loan and Home Lift Programs and the Seniors Community Wheelchair Loan Program,” said Allana and Emma. “Receiving the home lift from the Red Cross was a game changer for Mom as it enabled her join the rest of the family for meals rather than eating alone in her room,” said Susan.

Peggy’s Continuing Care assistant (CCA), Katelyn, helps her with personal care, meals, as well as supports her in completing her daily physiotherapy prescribed exercises to build her strength and mobility. This consistent care has been helpful as the two have developed a strong relationship and trust. It has also afforded Katelyn the opportunity to become more familiar with Peggy’s communication style, so she feels understood.

“Over the past year, Peggy has made great strides and is thriving at home,” said Allana and Emma. “She has progressed from being a bed patient (unable to sit up more than 40 degrees bed and only for short periods of time), to building up sitting tolerance by sitting at the side of the bed with home care/family/ community rehabilitation team support, to transferring with a mechanical lift to a wheelchair and finally progressing to standing, stepping and walking with a walker with the supervision of family/home care.”

When you meet Peggy and Susan, the bond between mother and daughter is evident as is Peggy’s determination to demonstrate how well she can now walk using her walker. In sharing their story, Susan often became overwhelmed with emotion because it means so much to her to have her mom at home.

Peggy has been home for almost a year. She keeps busy and you can often find her propelling herself around the house in her wheelchair. She is a keen sweeper and does her best to do her bit. She also enjoys frequent visits from her three grandchildren, three great grandchildren and her grandson’s chocolate lab, Rhiannah. Peggy also receives regular visits from a close family friend, who encourages her to keep up her daily exercises.

Peggy’s progress shows how a patient, their family and healthcare partners can work together to make a remarkable difference in someone’s quality of life. “I am so happy to be at home with my family,” said Peggy.

If you or your loved one need assistance to remain in your home or require support following a recent hospital stay anywhere in Nova Scotia, you can be referred to Nova Scotia Health Continuing Care. For more information or to make a referral, please call 1-800-225-7225 (toll free in Nova Scotia). Continuing care will work with you or your loved one to create a plan of care that is right for you.  For more information, visit

Photo of Margaret (Peggy) Buckle and her daughter, Susan Waterman.

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