Enhancing Mobility Assistance for Chinese-Australian Seniors.
There was an old saying, “Trees grow old from their roots, and people grow old from their legs.”
Chinese-Australian seniors often face challenges related to leg and feet issues, impacting their mobility and participation in social activities. This can also lead to mental health concerns. Early assessment, treatment and support are crucial in addressing these issues.
Fortunately, in Australia, Home Care Packages (HCP) provide comprehensive benefits that support seniors’ mobility needs. This article explores the different levels of mobility, the role of HCP in providing mobility assistance and how Happy Living can assist seniors in accessing these services.
Three levels of mobility:
- Level 1: Independent walking. For example, seniors take their grandchildren to school, go shopping and meet friends by themselves.
- Level 2: Walking with assistance or aids. For example, going to a nearby park with a partner to support you and carrying groceries with a cane or seat walker.
- Level 3: Complete inability to walk, requiring assistance.
Timed Up and Go (TUG) test.
Seniors are asked to rise from a standard armchair, walk to a marker three metres away, turn, walk back and sit down again. The test is reliable and valid for quantifying functional mobility that may also be useful in following clinical change over time.
- If scores are faster than 10 seconds, the senior is level 1 mobility and walking independently.
- 10 seconds to 20 seconds is considered level 2 mobility, requiring assistive aids.
- If over 20 seconds, the senior is judged as level 3 mobility and are completely in need of mobility assistance.
How a HCP can help seniors with mobility assistance?
Support 1: Handrails at home.
Ask an Occupational Therapist (OT) to assess the environment at the senior’s home and give suggestions for installing handrails.
Many older people believe that the handrail is a relatively simple project and they can buy a handrail and install it. The design of the service, especially in the case of complex interior or bathroom layout, requires an OT to give a professional judgement. Some handrails also consider design, material, load-bearing and other factors.
The cost of both occupational therapists and installations from a qualified professional can be covered by a HCP if listed in your care plan and budget.
Support 2: Mobility aids.
The purchase of mobility assistance devices is often used by HCP recipients. For example, walking frames, four-wheel walkers, walking sticks, wheelchairs and electric scooters. If there is a relevant care need, mobility aids can be covered by HCP.
Support 3: Wound nursing for diabetes.
To support and help manage a relatively common symptom of diabetes, usually occurring in the form of diabetic feet. If it is not well controlled in the early stage, especially the wound, subsequent inflammation, infection and even amputation may. Please look into mobility assistance as soon as symptoms arise.
Ms Chen lives in Sydney. Three months ago, Ms Chen contacted us regarding her mother (Happy Living client) undergoing a toe amputation in the hospital because of diabetic foot infection. She is currently preparing to be discharged from the hospital. Clearly, Ms Chen’s mum needs mobility assistance at level 3 (completely unable to walk on her own). In this situation, we also need to pay close attention to the healing of her wound to avoid any further infections. Therefore, it is important for a nurse to monitor the diabetic foot and keep the wound clean and healthy.
Support 4: The Allied Health Team.
Allied Health is a term to describe the broad range of health professionals who are not doctors or nurses. Allied health professionals aim to prevent, diagnose and treat a range of conditions and illnesses, and often work within a multidisciplinary health team to provide the best patient outcomes.
For seniors with long-term pain, the pain often occurs in the feet or back, making them less likely to be willing to walk. Chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and chronic pain, will affect mobility assistance. If a HCP is approved, the Allied Health Team can help you recover from illness or injury or manage chronic diseases.
There are many types of Allied Health professionals, including nutritionists, physical therapists, podiatrists, speech-language pathologists and psychologists.
Note: Doctors, nurses, dentists and other oral health professionals are not Allied Health professionals.
If a senior needs mobility assistance due to foot disease, they can see a podiatrist. They might consider seeing a physical therapist if they have pain in their spine, legs, long-term or start as soon as they walk or exercise.
In addition to the Allied Health Team, a HCP can also often cover traditional Chinese medicine services. Many Chinese elders trust the treatment methods of traditional Chinese medicine, such as physiotherapy, which can also treat and relieve the pain in the legs and back.
How seniors can access mobility assistance with Happy Living?
If a senior falls accidentally, walks wobbly or legs become weak, there is a potential risk of falling. Please contact your Care Manager. They will report to our clinical team who will assess the situation and advise the senior accordingly, such as seeing the Allied Health Team, installing a handrail or buying a cane.
If you are diagnosed with a chronic disease, please also inform your Care Manager and they will report to the medical team for further advice and mobility assistance.
For any assistance, please call us on 1300 911 728.
We have many years of industry experience and look forward to helping you!