Admitting to a skilled nursing facility was not Donette Bernaugh’s original plan for Christmas Day 2019.
Yet it was his rehabilitation at Life Care Center of St. Louis that gave him the gift of restored independence.
Donette came from a hospital stay with acute respiratory failure with hypoxia (or lack of oxygen in bodily tissues). He had difficulty swallowing and needed moderate assistance with bathing and getting dressed. He had some problems with cognition and needed some help with walking, getting in and out of bed and balancing while standing as well.
Physical therapists worked with Donette on balance, gait training with a rollator, lower-body strengthening exercises, endurance and safety awareness.
Occupational therapists worked with Donette on his upper-body strength and self-care skills, including teaching him how to use adaptive equipment to make daily tasks easier. They also helped him improve his activity tolerance.
In speech therapy, Donette learned safe swallowing and communication strategies, which therapists also taught to his family and other caregivers so they could continue to help him after his rehab stay.
On Jan. 28, 2020, Donette was ready to return home with his spouse. He can take care of his self-care tasks with modified independence with the exception of having setup assistance for bathing and transfers. He has improved independence and safety and has learned how to swallow better. He can also walk again.
“There’s nothing like therapy!” Donette said. “It’s hard, but it puts you into position to deal with life at home. It’s a blessing.”