My name is John; I’m 70 years old. In June of last year I lost my job with a disposal company and I ended up living in a homeless shelter for a while. Finally, I did manage to move out, and I was living independently, but I suffered a stroke and was admitted to an acute care hospital. While I was in the hospital, my wallet and my bottom dentures were lost. Also, my landlord tossed out my prescription glasses, clothes and some belongings.

I came to The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC) to receive Post Acute Care Rehabilitation (PACR). When I arrived at the TGHC, I was frustrated and very depressed. I was in a wheelchair, unable to control my left leg or my left hand, and I had trouble remembering. I was in deep despair — I did not want to live like this, and I constantly thought about suicide.

After some time at TGHC, things began to improve. I was slowly making progress with the physiotherapist’s support and was regaining some of my independence. However, I suffered another physical setback and had to return to the acute care hospital. While there my depression got worse but following treatment and the stabilizing of my medications I was able to return to the TGHC.

I am feeling much better these days. My physiotherapist, has helped me improve my balance and strength, and I have been able to slowly regain the use of my left hand and the mobility of my left leg is improving. I can now stand and I am learning to use a walker.

Now that I am mobile, I like to participate in recreational activities such as playing bingo and charades, and I go to cooking classes. I also like to get together with other patients and have coffee while we read and discuss the news.

The TGHC has helped me in so many ways. One of the social workers at TGHC, has been very helpful in organizing my finances. She located my wallet from the acute care hospital; she has also helped me with my banking, including arranging for my pension cheques, which had ended up going to the homeless shelter, to be sent to me here. She has arranged for me to have new prescription glasses and bottom dentures. I’m grateful to her, and I’m grateful to the nurse who brought me some clothes her husband no longer needed.

You would need to experience what I have in order to understand how excellent the care is here at the TGHC. I have a more positive outlook because I have been able to see how others here at the Grace, have the determination to fight and get better. I decided that if they could do it then I could too. I now realize that “suicide” is a dirty word.

The nurses and interprofessional health team are helping me regain my independence and I look forward to getting better so that I can return to the community.

John returned to the community not long after this interview took place.