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Serving Seniors' Needs: Reflections from Cory

As a student who’s been immersed in scientific works and all their jargon for the past four years of an undergraduate degree, it’s easy to think no further than the “statistically significant” - easy to disconnect the research from the individual experiences of people. Listening to Cory was a refreshing reminder of what was truly important in research: the people.

Kanesha (top left), Cory (top right), Amber (bottom)

Hi readers, my name is Kanesha. I joined Tele-Rehab as a new summer volunteer at the start of May, and I am thrilled to be on this journey of connecting you and myself to the people impacted by the work of the Tele-Rehab team. Today, I want to introduce you to Cory and share the impacts he’s witnessed at the Hinton senior’s lodge. The Tele-Rehab team and I are so thankful to Cory for participating in this interview with us and allowing us to share his reflections with you.

Cory began his career in the hospitality industry where he studied at the Culinary Institute of Canada for 2 & ½ years to become a chef. As a chef, he worked at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts for 16 years in cities such as Banff and Jasper, and even worked overseas. Eventually, he was promoted to food and beverage director at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, and took on a general manager position in two hotels. This experience prepared him well for his work in senior’s care.

Christmas Party at the Senior's Lodge

A few years ago, Cory joined his wife’s family in Hinton to settle there and attained his current position as Administrator at the senior’s lodge. As Hinton is tucked close to Jasper and the Rocky Mountains, Cory and his family make sure to enjoy the scenic views through hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.

At the Lodge, some of Cory’s responsibilities include hiring and training staff, providing housekeeping, offering food and beverages to the residents, implementing new programs, and maintaining finances. While his responsibilities encompass many aspects involved in maintaining the lodge, his priority remains with the residents, in treating them as valued guests.

St. Patrick's Day at the Senior's Lodge

Upon hearing about the Tele-Rehab study at his workplace, Cory had an instant thought. Like two puzzle pieces connected at last, Cory knew the study was a perfect fit to serve the needs of his residents.

In his work managing a senior’s lodge, Cory bears witness to their everyday struggles. One of the most significant burdens that Hinton’s seniors endure is the stressful journey of accessing rehabilitation services in Edmonton. Cory shared with us what such a journey looks like for his residents.

To reach the city, seniors are forced to undertake a long 4-hour drive through snow and ice in the winters, or sweltering traffic in the summers. Once there, they must navigate through the large and bustling city in the hopes of making it to their appointments on time. By this point, they are so drained that their exhaustion becomes their primary issue rather than their ailments. Because of this, many seniors do not even absorb the information from their appointments. Unless they have family in the city, seniors will stay overnight at a hotel and face the discomfort of being in an unfamiliar environment. Seniors who aren’t willing to stay at hotels or don’t have the funds to stay the night will leave as early as 4:00 AM and come home in the late hours of the night just so they can rest in the comfort of their own rooms.

All that effort is often spent just to attend one appointment.

To add to all of this, in anticipation of an appointment, seniors often become stressed when considering the trip, and once they return, they take a week to recover from the exhaustion. The stress is so draining that most seniors will even avoid seeking rehabilitation treatment, and will only do so if it becomes a life or death matter. This is especially worrying because without immediate treatment, their mild ailments may escalate into chronic and/or severe conditions that become more difficult to manage. Seniors bear the burden of finances, travel, and stress to try and manage their health as best they can.

Zoom call with a rural patient

By delivering rehabilitation services directly to seniors, rather than the opposite, Tele-Rehab can tackle many of these challenges. Because of the myriad of benefits that Tele-Rehab offers to seniors, Cory believes that the Tele-Rehab study has found its true niche in serving the needs of seniors. Through removing the necessity of travel for rehabilitation services, Tele-Rehab can prevent the immense stress, exhaustion and financial burden seniors experience when travelling for appointments. Without these barriers to care, seniors may be more motivated to seek treatment when they need it, for either mild or severe ailments. When travel is no longer an obstacle to their health, seniors can instead use their energy to focus on their exercises, their stretching, and above all, taking care of themselves. In addition, Tele-Rehab reduces the potential risk of COVID-19 to seniors by keeping our seniors safe in their place of residence.

However, as I’m sure you’re all aware, Tele-Rehab isn’t only for seniors. Cory sees the potential for Tele-Rehab to be used by everyone, including himself. No more waiting in waiting rooms, no more driving to appointments, and all from the comfort of your own home or local clinic when it is convenient for you. The need for convenient service delivery is there, and Tele-Rehab is ready to deliver. Listening to the experiences of seniors through Cory illuminates how Tele-Rehab has the opportunity to improve the healthcare journey for seniors, not only in providing specialized services for their rehabilitation needs, but also in reducing the stress, exhaustion, and burden involved in accessing these services.

Our funding from the United Way that enabled us to work in these senior’s lodges finished on June 30, so we are now looking for more funding to continue this incredible work. I hope that we will be able to share some more success with you soon. Until then, dear readers, stay safe and well and enjoy the summer sun!

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