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Toni Talks about PT Today

My Morning Coffee Group

Published May 15, 2012 9:35 AM by Toni Patt

I like to start work early; the earlier the better. Usually this means I start my day alone. I grab the first patient I find out of bed and get started. Not anymore. A few days ago, I was having trouble convincing a patient to come to therapy. In frustration, I offered her a cup of fresh coffee to sip while we were working. Little did I know it would open the floodgate. Now I have all the company I want and several patients to choose from, as long as I make that first pot of coffee.

It turns out the SNF where I've been working is stingy with coffee. They make two huge urns from which all of the residents must make do. I quickly discovered those two urns are grossly inadequate for the coffee demand. After my fifth trip to the urn to fill someone's cup I got the story. Not only was the coffee supply lacking, so was the service to get the cups filled.

Now first thing every morning, I make a pot of strong coffee. Within 10 minutes, my ladies start rolling in. They aren't allowed to walk with their walkers without me. I work with whoever is willing to go first that day. Meanwhile all of my ladies sip coffee and talk. As I was walking with one to the dining room after therapy, she thanked me. She said it was the closest she's felt to being home since she was admitted.

I have an odd olio of ladies. Two are old strokes. One has a spinal fracture. Another is a COPDer. Sometimes I have a medical admit or an early-onset dementia comes along. Some can walk. A few are just standing. Naturally the stroke ladies are positioned so that the coffee is on the neglect side. I tell them it's the cost of free coffee. They must cross midline to reach it. No one complains.

After breakfast my ladies come back, drink more coffee and read the newspaper. In between, we get some therapy done. This is a nice reminder that being in a nursing home doesn't mean you stop being a person. I still fill a few cups in the dining room before breakfast but it's usually for someone who isn't on caseload, although that person would be welcome.

I'm glad my early schedule has benefited someone besides me. Talking with my ladies over coffee is a good reminder to me to see them as people, not just patients.


Awesome story, Toni.  Very well written.  

Lisa Mueller May 17, 2012 9:54 AM

Nice post, Toni. I smiled all the way through.

Great reminder of the potential that awaits us when we tap into the humanity of healthcare.


Jane Goude May 17, 2012 1:53 AM

Fantastic! One of the things that I've learned working here in the NHS is the value of a 'cuppa tea' and a biscuit. Whenever there are groups like pulmonary rehab or people gathered in waiting rooms for physio, they get a cuppa and a biscuit, a chance to chat with each other, and a good feeling and reason to come back again. For many of our older patients, this may be the only social contact they get all week. They work in therapy and then will go and commiserate or brag depending on how they've done.

This is a great way to actually make more efficient use of time (the bean counters won't agree!) and gets better compliance with therapy.

Well done!


Dean Metz May 15, 2012 12:38 PM

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