Early Discharge and Rehabilitation Service helps get Willem back on his feet

RENEE CLAYTON/STUFF

Early Discharge and Rehabilitation Service helps get Willem back on his feet.

With the help of a Waitemata District Health Board at-home programme, stroke survivor Willem Bessem is back on his feet taking part in his favourite hobbies.

The 83-year-old ballroom dancer, gardener and photographer is back doing what he loves after his quick recovery.

Willem suffered a stroke in his home on June 1 after feeling a bit "funny" on one side of his body and was quickly rushed to North Shore Hospital.

Gaye and Willem Bessem thank the Early Discharge and Rehabilitation Service team.
Renee Clayton/Stuff

Gaye and Willem Bessem thank the Early Discharge and Rehabilitation Service team.

"I don't remember much, I just knew something wasn't right," he said.

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His wife Gaye said it was stressful coming to terms with her husband's condition.

Willem Bessem takes part in the Waitemata DHB's Early Discharge and Rehabilitation Service (EDARS) programme.
Renee Clayton/Stuff

Willem Bessem takes part in the Waitemata DHB's Early Discharge and Rehabilitation Service (EDARS) programme.

"Willem had never been in hospital, we are very healthy and active so it came at a complete surprise."

She said Willem struggled to speak and couldn't even sit up in his hospital bed after his stroke.

"It was extremely hard to witness, I am lucky there was lovely St John volunteers who provided that care and support for me while the medical staff cared for Willem."

Gaye and Willem Bessem enjoy the comfort of their own home.
Renee Clayton/Stuff

Gaye and Willem Bessem enjoy the comfort of their own home.

Willem started undergoing physiotherapy when Gaye heard about Waitemata DHB's Early Discharge and Rehabilitation Service (EDARS) programme.

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This is a programme that is six to eight weeks of intensive rehabilitation delivered by an interdisciplinary team in the patient's home.

"It is similar to the programmes provided in the hospital rehabilitation wards," Gaye said.

Gaye and Willem Bessem get back into ballroom dancing.
Renee Clayton/Stuff

Gaye and Willem Bessem get back into ballroom dancing.

"Willem had access to dietitians, geriatricians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, social workers, speech and language therapists and therapy assistants who came twice a day." 

Waitemata DHB's John Scott said the purpose of EDARS is to allow patients a home-based service that meets their own goals.

"For a number of our patients, the ability to do their rehabilitation in their own home can help with their recovery. Focusing on using one's own stairs, bathroom or backyard can be more meaningful while still receiving the best care from medical experts."

Willem said they really pushed him out of his comfort zone but admitted that was what he needed.

"They push you hard and you have to have the mindset to do it. I highly recommend the programme to anyone, they were fantastic," he said.

"Now I can walk reasonably well and I am able to walk to the shops or the beach. I think you definitely excel when you are in your own home environment, especially when you are committed to your goals.

"The EDARS team taught us so much and we can't thank them enough," Willem said.

 - Rodney Times

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