Feet are not for everyone, especially caring for feet. But having healthy feet is vital for anyone who wants to get from point A to point B. It’s not something we think about when we’re young, but as we get older, foot care becomes an important part of maintaining mobility. Nicole Masson-Greenhorn is a registered nurse for the Victorian Order of Nurses, and specializes in foot care. She came to The Lighthouse last week for her first drop-in foot clinic.
“It went well,” says Masson-Greenhorn, “I wasn’t sure what to expect for feet, but everybody I saw needed foot care, from super long toe nails to a little bit of teaching about foot care. Although feet are usually a lower priority, everybody who was diabetic seemed to know that feet are important, which I really like to see.”
The Victorian Order of Nurses is a charitable organization which was founded in 1896. It was originally started as a group of travelling nurses who would visit isolated communities in Canada to provide health care. In 1898, a VON cottage hospital was opened in Regina to provide care to pioneers and early settlers on the prairies. Over the next century, the order grew into a leading charitable organization, providing home care, education and health services across the country.
“In Saskatoon our role is foot care, so we go to all the nursing homes, people’s homes and hospitals to do feet. My job is foot care five days a week,” explains Masson-Greenhorn, “we do the flu programs, wellness clinics, we do some drug programs, teaching people to self-administer meds that are injectable, but our major role is foot care.”
As a registered nurse, Masson-Greenhorn always starts off with an assessment of her patient’s feet. She looks at what kind of shoes and socks they normally wear, as well as inspects their circulation and color. The next step is to, “cut and file toe nails, if people have corns or calluses we can file those as well. And then depending on what people have, if they have paralysis on one side or diabetes, we assess how that affects the foot and how can we keep it healthier.”
This kind of health care is vital to Lighthouse clients because many homeless individuals are forced to walk long distances every day to find food, shelter and access services in Saskatoon. Masson-Greenhorn understands that her patients have other health concerns, but wants to emphasize the importance of foot care, “People concentrate on high blood pressure, and they concentrate on insulin and all those things are important, but we want to focus on the feet and make sure that people can walk as well as they can and deal with issues. ”
It’s especially important for people with diabetes to be aware of their feet, due to their changing level of blood sugar that can damage nerves and lead to loss of feeling. This can cause something like a cut to go unnoticed and become infected, sometimes resulting in amputation. Masson-Greenhorn’s goal is to catch this before it even starts.
The Lighthouse hopes to take advantage of funding and have a foot care specialist come in once a month for a drop-in clinic. In the meantime, clients are advised to change into a clean pair of socks every day and wear proper fitting, supportive shoes.