Seniors Health and Wellness

Your health care team

While at St. Michael’s Hospital or visiting a clinic, you might have a number of health care professionals involved in your care. The following describes the different types of health care professionals you may encounter.

Health-care professional Position description
Discharge planner You may have a discharge planner working with you during your time at St. Michael’s Hospital. Your discharge planner helps to co-ordinate where you will go after your hospital stay.

You can ask your discharge planner questions about:
  • Support services at home
  • Anything related to your next destination (rehabilitation, long-term care, etc.)
Doctor Our medical staff specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of diseases involving all organ systems. You may be referred to a specialist doctor who has extra training in a particular area, such as a cardiologist or geriatrician.
Nurse As members of the health care team, the primary role of a nurse is to provide safe, effective and patient-centred nursing care. All nurses are registered members of the College of Nurses of Ontario.
Nurse practitioner A nurse practitioner is a nurse with extra specialized training giving them the authority to do some of the tasks of a doctor.
Pharmacist You may have a pharmacist working with you during your time at St. Michael’s Hospital. Your pharmacist will be in charge of giving medications prescribed by your doctor. Pharmacists are an excellent source of information on how various drugs might interact with each other.

You may ask your pharmacist questions about:
  • Side effects of medications
  • The amount of medications you are taking
More information about our pharmacy
Spiritual care professional (chaplains) Spiritual care professionals are from various faiths who provide spiritual care to patients and hospital staff. A chaplain is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A member of our health care team can contact the chaplain for you.

More information about spiritual care at St. Michael's
Physiotherapist Your physiotherapist will help you to gain back your strength, and to get moving again safely. This may include help with standing, sitting and walking, or an exercise program.

You may ask your physiotherapist questions about:
  • How much walking you should do in a day
  • Whether you might need a walker or a cane
  • Ways to increase your strength and balance
  • Breathing and coughing exercises
More information about physiotherapy
Dietitian The dietitian will work with you to optimize your diet for your specific needs and to help you understand what nutrients you need every day. If you are in the hospital, be sure to let your team know if you need to have softer foods, use liquid meal replacements like Ensure or follow any special diets at home. You can ask your dietitian questions about:
  • What types and amounts of foods are right for you
  • Any concerns about appetite, constipation, home meal supports
More information about dietitian services
Speech-language pathologist You may have a speech language pathologist working with you during your time at St. Michael’s Hospital. Your speech language pathologist may help you with swallowing or communicating.

You may ask your speech language pathologist questions about:
  • Swallowing
  • How to improve speech, voice and language (including reading and writing)
  • Other communication challenges, e.g. thinking and social skills for communication
More information about speech-language pathology
Occupational therapist You may have an occupational therapist working with you during your time at St. Michael’s Hospital. Your occupational therapist will help you to get back to daily activities such as grooming and dressing, or making a meal at home.

You can ask your occupational therapist questions about:
  • Tips to improve your memory
  • Equipment that will help make daily activities easier at home
More information about occupational therapy
Respiratory therapist You may have a respiratory therapist working with you during your time at St. Michael’s Hospital. Your respiratory therapist may help you with your breathing if you are having troubles.

You may ask your respiratory therapist questions about:
  • Oxygen therapy
  • CPAP therapy, if you are using it
  • Your breathing tube (ie: tracheostomy), if you have one
More information about respiratory therapy
Social worker You may have a social worker on your health care team during your time at St. Michael’s Hospital. Your social worker may be able to support you with some of the non-medical aspects of your care. This includes counselling, support for you and your family around decision making and future planning, referrals and suggestions about helpful community services and advocacy when needed.

You may ask your social worker questions about:
  • How to navigate the "system"
  • Available in-home and community supports
  • Advance directives, power of attorneys, the Public Guardian and Trustee Office and other assessments done both in hospital and in the community.
More information about social workers