Of the patients admitted to Halton Healthcare’s Oakville Hospital, 65 per cent are aged 65 and over; among these, those 85 and over represent the fastest growing age group in the Halton Region. Clinical staff at Halton Healthcare Services (HHS) recognized the unique needs of this population, and initiated an interdisciplinary delirium prevention project in 2007 which would evolve into the Safer Elder Care program in 2009. The Safer Elder Care program encompasses three other related projects at the HHS hospital in Oakville – falls prevention, restraint prevention, and skin and wound care. A primary aim has been to heighten awareness and hardwire best practices within the hospital setting to address common interrelated geriatric issues. Central to knowledge transmission are a number of new clinical tools for staff: • Electronic screen prompts • Practice protocols • Screening tools (e.g. CAM and MORSE) • Physician order sets • New teaching tools for patients and families • Physician consultation process. Expertise was developed with the help of 11 front-line Elder Care Mentors, who completed a month-long intensive internship to gain proficiency in geriatric issues, and 65 Champions spread across all three HHS sites. Measures were set to evaluate progress and patient outcomes. Key to the program’s success have been an inter-disciplinary steering team, engagement of front-line staff, and support from senior administration. In May 2009, HHS’s commitment to excellence in geriatric care was recognized when they were awarded NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Health system Elders) designation, becoming the first non-teaching community hospital in Ontario to do so and connecting them to over 200 other NICHE organizations across North America.
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