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Staff Story

Physiotherapy Gratitude

Meet Michelle, Danielle, and Kate, champions of compassionate physiotherapy care with Lakeridge Health.

Meet Michelle: Physiotherapy Assistant, Lakeridge Health Whitby

Michelle always wanted to help people. When she chose to go to Fleming College, she knew getting involved in therapy and exercise was just one way she could give back to her community. After school, Michelle’s first placement was at Lakeridge Health Whitby where she eventually began working full time as a rehabilitation physiotherapy assistant. Now, Michelle is able to help people of all ages in her home town.

“It is so rewarding to see how people change. I love to see them get back to their work and an enjoyable lifestyle.” Michelle shares. “We take for granted how easily we are able to do things. Being able to regain your independence [through physiotherapy] is what I like to see with patients. Living without pain is huge, as is being generally function. That’s what we help people with here.”

While Michelle works with a large number of patients from the Durham community, one gentleman’s story of rehabilitation stands out to her. As a student, Michelle remembers first working with this gentleman after a very severe stroke. Two years into her career, Michelle ran into the same man working with one of her co-workers. “He was up, mobile, and using very little gated support. I was so grateful to see him from the beginning of his acute care and then seeing him well on his way. I’ll always remember that because seeing people from to finish feels really good.”

“When you get recognition from patients, it is what makes you realize you’re truly making a difference. For someone to be so thankful as to give [Lakeridge Health] a donation because they loved their care so much and to show they really want to see Lakeridge Health keep going strong, to me, that was really good. My Circle of Gratitude moment will always stand out in my career.”

In the spring of 2019, Michelle was recognized through Lakeridge Health Foundation’s Circle of Gratitude program. The program allows grateful patients or family members to thank their caregiver at Lakeridge Health with a donation to our Hospital. While Michelle receives gratitude from her patients every time one ‘graduates’ and is discharged, she felt truly touched by the donation.

Meet Danielle: Physiotherapist, Lakeridge Health Whitby

Born and raised in Oshawa, Danielle’s work as a physiotherapist started in 2011 at Lakeridge Health and has led her to work throughout the Durham region. For Danielle, she finds meaning in her community through her work as a physiotherapist.

From fractures to joint replacements, Danielle and her team at Lakeridge Health Whitby focus on getting people to their health goals.

“During my assessments, I always like to ask people what they like to do. They start by saying ‘well not much right now!’ I love doing what I do because I see people go from post-surgical all the way to discharge and whether it’s returning to work, to sports, or sitting on the floor and playing with their grandchild, it means so much to me as a physiotherapist and as a person.”

For Danielle, there are many moments that stand out from her career. Recently, she recalls working with a gentleman who fractured his elbow at work. The man had a limited range of motion and yet, on his last day working with Danielle, he almost brought her to tears as he thanked her for her support. “He kept saying that if I hadn’t help him, he wouldn’t be where he was…It was a moment that really solidified that I am in the right career. It is good to know I had such a positive impact on other individual.”

In the spring of 2019, Danielle received recognition through Lakeridge Health Foundation’s Circle of Gratitude program. The program allows grateful patients or family members to thank their caregiver at Lakeridge Health with a donation to our Hospital. 

“To me, it’s super meaningful for patients because it is a compassionate way to say thank you to someone who has helped you. It is a way to say thank you to someone who doesn’t need the thanks. I don’t need to be thanked, just seeing someone smile and move forward is thanks enough. I am grateful though, for the recognition and I think [Circle of Gratitude] is a great way to connect people and keep supporting the work we do at Lakeridge Health."

Meet Katie: Physiotherapist, Lakeridge Health Oshawa

Katie started her career in physiotherapy as a career. From Toronto, Katie began volunteering in her area and, every Friday for a full year, she shadowed an amazing physiotherapist who truly showed her the impact of physiotherapy care in a community.

“To be a physiotherapist, you have to really want to help people get better, to achieve their best care, but, you also have to have that clinical skill set to help patients achieve their goals. For my patients in Oshawa, having physiotherapy services close to home is so important. I don’t think a lot of these patients would be where they are today if these services weren’t available through Lakeridge Health.”

Over her career, Katie shares that the most impactful moments, for her, happen when patients return to the clinic after being discharged. “As physiotherapists, we always appreciate hearing how patients are doing. We are very fortunate in Oshawa, we have those moments here often. It really makes me feel as if our work is worthwhile.”

In the spring of 2019, Katie’s hard work and compassion for her Oshawa patients was recognized through Lakeridge Health Foundation’s Circle of Gratitude program. The program allows grateful patients or family members to thank their caregiver at Lakeridge Health with a donation to our Hospital.

“It meant a lot to me for someone to donate to the Hospital. When they attach their donation to the care they received, that feels important to me. The woman who recognized me actually spent her career at Lakeridge Hospital and that was significant because it felt as if she really believed in what we do here. She wanted to support our mission. She spent her career working here and then received care here, I know she sees the value in what we do.”

Katie wants to share with others that physiotherapy, surprisingly, is fun! Katie and her team at Lakeridge Health Oshawa are committed to a patient-centric, goal-focused, treatment. “We have a lot of fun in our clinic. People walk in afraid saying ‘oh, what are you going to do!’, but, 99% of the time they leave feeling accomplished, having learned something, and having enjoyed doing it too. We really get to know each other. Our clinic has a very upbeat, positive environment.”

5 tips from your Physiotherapy Experts

  1. Look out for uneven surfaces. “As people start gardening, or opening up the cottage, make sure to look for uneven surfaces that could cause a fall,” Katie says. “If you’re walking on sidewalks, look for potholes. If you’re gardening, look for uneven grass. If you’re up North, watch out as it can be rocky.”
  2. Listen to your body. “If you can’t reach to pick it up, or, if you’ve been told you can’t-stop and listen! Your body will always tell you when you’ve done too much. You’ve got to listen to your body!”
  3. Take it step by step. If you’re getting back to movement and going through rehabilitation, Danielle suggests pushing yourself, gently, day to day, and asking yourself questions at every step. “I always come back to, okay what are your personal goals? Has your pain gotten worse? Did you have to take medication? Did your swelling get worse? Did you have trouble sleeping last night? Check in with your body and adjust.”
  4. Let a family member or friend know you’re going out. Especially if you are at risk of falling, or, if you are still recovering, stay safe by letting others know where you are going and what activity you are doing.
  5. Stay active year round! “While difficult, it’s not just about getting active now that the weather is nice!” Katie shares. “Think about the other seasons too and thankfully, the community here has a lot of community centres, indoor malls to walk around, and other resources. A year-long active lifestyle is the best way to stay healthy!”