Audrey’s Story: Embracing Supportive Care

Sometimes you just need to be open in order for something better to come into your life. That’s exactly how I came to realize the Edwin S.H. Leong Geriatric Supportive Care Outreach Program at North York General Hospital(NYGH), was something that would greatly improve my quality of life.

A Change of Heart led to a Breakthrough in Care

At 94, suffering from heart failure and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), I was at NYGH being treated for breathing difficulties. Dr. Niren Shetty, a NYGH palliative care physician, and Dr. Jackson, my family physician, suggested I take part in the program, but I declined. At the time, I didn’t fully understand how an outreach team could help me with my health issues. With a bit more encouragement, I eventually enrolled in the program in September of 2021, still doubtful it would have any positive impact in my life.

When Karen Lock arrived at my home for the first visit, I was apprehensive and almost asked her to leave after learning that she was a palliative care nurse. At the time my perception was that Karen’s role was to simply wait for me to die and not provide any real value. Looking back, I realize how patient Karen was with me at that time, and I feel grateful that I gave the program a chance.

Listened to & Cared for

Karen and Dr. Jackson started visiting every week to care for me. I keep a list of concerns which are addressed at every visit, as well as new treatment options. Now, I feel listened to and in control of my own health.

Sometimes Karen visits me on her own if I need additional support, and often calls me just to check in. The personal touch and compassion she’s shown means the world to me. My breathing is much better now, and I know that if I experience health issues after-hours or on the weekends, both Karen and Dr. Jackson are only a phone call away.

My private caregiver Laura Velasco also provides essential help every day as well. She helps me with all my personal tasks, allowing me to continue living comfortably in my own home.

Happy & Healthy at Home

Since starting in the outreach program, I haven’t had to go to the Emergency Department. Now that I have a better understanding of what supportive care involves, my perspective has changed, and I’ve come to realize how impactful it has been. I feel very fortunate to receive such compassionate care at home through this program.