Storyteller shares H2H health journey
Andy Stocks made his living painting houses. But storytelling has always taken centre stage for the 77-year-old writer, actor and artist from Hamilton.
Stocks is a prolific writer who has penned hundreds of children’s stories over the years. He even appeared on the kids’ show Mr. Dressup, reading stories to puppets Casey and Finnegan.
“I’ve been dealing with the ups and downs of getting older.”
These days though, Stocks is sharing stories about his health and the role that the award-winning Hamilton Health Sciences’ Hospital 2 Home (H2H) program has played in improving his quality of life and helping him live independently.
Creating an action plan with patients
H2H provides care for patients impacted by multiple chronic conditions and faced with social and economic barriers to achieving good health. Since the program was established in 2014, it has supported close to 1,400 patients in the Hamilton and Niagara area.
H2H’s success is based on strong community partnerships. The H2H team collaborates with patients and health, social and community service providers to create action plans that support patients’ goals while also improving the patient and provider experience, population health and the use of health care resources.
In-home blood work, diabetic foot care
“I’ve been dealing with the ups and downs of getting older,” said Stocks, who connected with H2H due to uncontrolled diabetes and memory loss. The program has also supported him during COVID-19 by arranging for a mobile blood lab to visit his home for blood work needed by his family doctor and specialist, as well as virtual follow-up appointments.
H2H provided a referral and ongoing advocacy for increased visits by a nurse for support with diabetes management. A nurse now visits Stocks twice a day.
H2H also arranged for in-home foot care during COVID-19 and for a personal support worker to visit him daily and help with diabetes-friendly meals. Grocery delivery was arranged by H2H as well as comfort kit including a magazine, word search book and other activities to help him pass the time in social isolation. The Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation provides financial support to the H2H program for items such as food, transportation and other essential supplies.
From sticky notes to coordinated appointments
Prior to connecting with H2H, Stocks was missing medical appointments and not managing his diabetes well. His former partner Catherine Rankin, who remains a close friend, tried to help him stay organized but this became more challenging as his health declined. Plus, Rankin had moved from Hamilton to British Columbia and was trying to help by phone.
During a visit back to Hamilton, Rankin had placed sticky notes around Stocks’ condo to remind him of everything from medical appointments to healthy eating habits.
“Don’t eat in the middle of the night,” read a note stuck to the fridge. His desk was another favourite place for sticky notes.
But even with these strategically-placed reminders, Stocks had difficulty managing his schedule and often missed appointments. When H2H coordinator Jill Traynor first met with him, she asked how he would feel about her team gathering up all the notes and coordinating his appointments.
“He was all for it,” said Traynor, who also helped Stocks apply for DARTS accessible transportation after he gave up his driver’s licence for health reasons.
“The Hospital 2 Home program has been wonderful.”
Traynor helped Stocks find a family doctor and new pharmacy, and accompanied him to medical and blood lab appointments. She also connected him with Carrin Adoma, a community health navigator with Good Shepherd. Adoma’s role is the result of a partnership between Good Shepherd and HHS, which sees community health navigators partner with H2H coordinators to address patients’ health and social needs.
“The Hospital 2 Home program has been wonderful,” said Stocks. “I’ve always been very active, so this has been a very difficult year. You don’t ever expect to need so much support, but I’m glad it’s here. I’ve definitely benefitted from it.”
The Canadian College of Health Leaders announced this week that Hamilton Health Sciences is receiving the 2020 Excellence in Patient Experience Award for the Hospital 2 Home program.