Homeland Center’s rehab brings a holistic approach to wellness


Marianna Bjurstrom doesn’t let severe arthritis keep her from enjoying the day trips and activities that Homeland has to offer. Her rehabilitation services have helped her retain as much mobility as possible and even taught her to use a power wheelchair.

“I don’t want to be a couch potato,” she says.

Homeland resident Marianna Bjurstrom and Occupational Therapist Manager Margaret McCabe.

Homeland partners with Genesis Rehab Services, a national provider, to offer rehab for Homeland guests. They may be long-term residents, or they may choose Homeland for rehab stays of a few days or weeks while recovering from a hospital visit or injury. Some are Homeland Hospice patients and receive rehab services in their home.

All get the same level of quality service that’s infused into the spirit of Homeland.

Genesis staff members include physical, occupational, and speech and language therapists, all skilled and educated in their areas of expertise. They work as a team with Homeland’s nurses and social services, including nurses and social services, taking a holistic approach to the needs of every patient, says Sherrie Knaster, area director for Genesis Rehab.

Help with a variety of conditions

Patients come to rehab for a variety of reasons, whether they’re suffering from the effects of a fall, trying to maintain cognitive abilities in the face of dementia, or recovering from surgery. No matter the reason, the rehab team focuses on every aspect of the patient’s circumstances.

“Is there a medical condition that’s changed?” says Knaster. “From a patient point of view, what is their mobility? What’s their balance? What’s their strength? We also look at it from an occupational point of view, how are they interacting with their environment, to make sure they’re getting all their daily activities accomplished in a safe way?”

In all cases, “the patient comes first,” says Knaster. Families are included in every step, while patients themselves set the goals meant to get them to the next level.

Knaster recalled one patient who came to rehab through Homeland Hospice. Genesis provided services in the home, working toward the goal of helping the patient get out of bed and join the family in the living room on Christmas Day – a goal that was achieved.

“When you keep things patient-centered and you listen to their goals, then you get the outcomes you want,” says Knaster.

Improving quality of life

Rehab services have helped Homeland resident Veronica Stibitz manage the effects of conditions that include scleroderma, a condition that can affect the skin and internal organs. A heat lamp and massage make her hands feel better. After emerging from a period when she was bedridden, her therapists helped her recover her balance.

“They’re encouraging, and they’re people persons,” says Stibitz. “They don’t push their patients so we feel uncomfortable. You feel very relaxed.”

Even when she has reached her goals, there are reviews and checks to “help you get back and make sure you’re okay,” says Stibitz.

Much of the work of rehab is about maintenance of abilities, especially in the case of patients with dementia, which, as Knaster notes, is a disease process that robs patients of the ability to accomplish everyday tasks.

“We look at how we can keep that person — who might deny having cognitive changes — engaged so they can stay well and do the daily activities that we take for granted,” she says.

“Your therapy, your way”

The rehab team can conduct home evaluations, to assess environment and safety for patients returning to their homes. It’s all part of providing “your therapy, your way,” says Occupational Therapist Program Manager Margaret McCabe.

Patients receive services in their rooms or in the cheery rehab space that opens to a Homeland garden. McCabe once took a cervical collar to a patient’s home, and “they thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.”

“It was such a simple fix, but it was huge for them,” she says.

Bjurstrom participates in therapy to keep her stiffened joints moving, while her Pronto power wheelchair propels her around Homeland and on trips. The therapy team helped her acquire the donated chair and provided three weeks of training in its safe use.

“It’s kind of like driving a car,” says Bjurstrom. “You have to be on the lookout for people coming and going, and you have to be able to keep going in the right direction and not roll over people’s toes.”

The longstanding relationship between Homeland and Genesis Rehab Services is built on the strengths of each, says Knaster – Homeland’s service-oriented philosophy, and Genesis’ extensive network that assures a free flow of ideas and up-to-date services.

“If you partner with the right people, then you can use their experience and do what you need to do to have the best outcome,” says Knaster.

Bjurstrom enjoys working with her therapists, who are all “very nice and always willing to help.”

“Their hearts are all in it,” she says. “I’m glad I’m here. I really am.”