Helen Janzen

Helen Janzen
Operation Lead for Special Projects
Manager Patient Services

When I was 13 years old, I was involved in a car accident that left me with a dislocated hip. I spent six weeks in the hospital, lying on my back in traction. I couldn’t sit up on my own, let alone walk. I had to learn to walk again with the help of physiotherapy. This experience inspired me to become a Physiotherapist.

In my very first placement, after I finished school, I worked with a child who had broken his leg. He had not been walking and had become deconditioned. I worked with him through his rehab. In the end, he sent me a card that said: “thank you for teaching me to walk again.” I knew right then that I had made the right decision and that joy and passion to serve others have followed me into my new roles along the way.

I work with extraordinary people on teams within the LHIN and with partner organizations in the community, as well as the patients. Everyone has something to contribute if we take time to listen.

Currently, I am working on projects related to how we deliver restorative care to our patients. Our goal is to get the maximum independence for the patient and help them improve their skills after an illness, injury, or deconditioning. It’s important that people don’t become dependent on receiving a high level of personal care if there’s potential to reverse it. They need to practice and increase their skills to regain their independence.

How much they improve depends on how long they’ve been in a state of illness and their motivation to regain their independence. The supports in their environment are also important. Through collaborative efforts, we looked at building a stronger community team, stronger communication and supporting our frontline to engage patients in working towards their goals. Teaching skills that open up conversations around barriers and working together is the only way we can build trusting rehabilitation that empowers the workers and patients.

Ageism can stop us from believing that someone has potential. In fact, seniors have as much potential as a 20-year-old to improve. I remember working with a 92-year-old woman who could not climb the stairs in her home, but she was motivated to become stronger and learn. We worked together for many weeks, and she did achieve the goals she had set. She was able to reduce her pain and do stairs again. For seniors, their level of engagement, the support they have, and their environment can either contribute to their improvement or their frailty. We are all leaders in moving this pendulum towards improvement.

Part of this job is to problem solve and find better ways to work. I came to the WWLHIN because I wanted to be part of driving system transformation. With the CCAC and the LHIN together, we have the strategy piece layered in with the delivery. That’s having a greater impact on the system. There are better collaboration and understanding. It brings a different level to what we can accomplish together.

The patients are leading the way. It’s their experience that informs the work we do because their stories and experiences have an impact on our planning. We follow up with patient interviews and engage patients to learn how programs are and should be working. We’re hearing positive results.

As long as we can see how we play a role in a patient’s outcome e.g. learn to walk, seeing the potential in frailty, answering the phone with a smile, listening, we will always be moving in the right direction in healthcare.

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