2021 Blog Post

VHA Nurses share the importance of foot care—and why you shouldn’t put it off

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By VHA
Doctor holding the foot of a woman in his office

As Ontario starts to reopen, many people are considering restarting personal care services that they put on hold during the pandemic. Foot care is one of these services that is important for supporting health and well-being.

Though feet are a small part of our body, they play a vital role as our body’s foundation, by keeping us balanced and upright and helping us stay physically active. Feet have a complex structure composed of more than 26 bones and 33 joints which allow us to move, so tending to our feet carefully is important.

“As we age our feet can have very poor circulation. We often don’t get enough exercise and the ability to reach our lower extremities can be reduced,” says Blecila Santos, a foot care nurse with VHA Home HealthCare (VHA). “Pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes, can also cause significant issues with one’s feet,” she added. Blecila and a team of certified foot care nurses at VHA have been providing services to seniors and diabetics including long-term care residents throughout the pandemic.

Foot care nurses conduct a foot care assessment where they will determine whether a doctor or specialist is needed to alleviate the pain they may be feeling.

“If we don’t take care of our feet, especially for those who are obese and diabetic, the blood vessels and nerves can be affected which can cause a loss of sensation called neuropathy,” says Blecila. “Infections can also develop. Any sort of abnormal change to your feet should be addressed to avoid deterioration.”

Clients who experience a lot of pain due to foot calluses, corns and pressure points benefit from these monthly visits as it helps them reduce the severity of the pain.

Blecila has noticed that many people don’t take proper care of their feet. She provides both foot care services and education for her clients on how and why people need to take care of their feet. In severe situations, poor foot care can lead to amputation in patients with diabetes when they begin to lose feeling in their feet.

Tapash Dey, another VHA foot care nurse shared, “Some of my patients aren’t able to bend [over adequately to reach] their feet. Sometimes they might not even realize that toenails are bleeding because of a loss of sensation. In these situations, clients are not able to take care of their feet themselves,” he added, “having them tended to on a regular basis, ideally every six weeks or so, is really important.”

Another important part of foot care is to ensure that nails are cut and kept clean regularly.

“When toenails are too long that can affect their gait and balance. Statistics show that one of the reasons of falling over is long toenails,” Tapash shared. “If their nails are very long, they cannot properly grip the soles of their shoes or slippers with their toes.”

Tapash is concerned that many people do not prioritize their foot care, even though unhealthy feet can have a significant impact on quality of life. He and other VHA foot care nurses have been providing foot care services in people’s homes throughout the pandemic and have taken extra precautions to do so safely.

“It’s important that people are further educated on the importance of foot care and that there are follow ups to ensure people get the continuous treatment they need for their feet,” he added. “I hope more people will reach out to get the care they need now that things are opening up.”

If you are interested in learning more about the foot care services provided at VHA, please visit https://www.vha.ca/private-services/.