On June 9 in Mississauga, Ont., hundreds of seniors, their families and friends joined staff from our local community hospitals for an afternoon of laughter. Both my mom and I strongly agree this was one of the funniest afternoons we’ve spent together in a long while.
Bayshore Home Health and the volunteers of Trillium Health Centre partnered to raise money to support the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), a pioneering initiative designed to maintain the health and well being of seniors while in hospital. The program’s goal is also to prevent functional decline for all individuals over the age of 70 who are entering hospital. According to Trillium, 30 to 50 per cent of hospitalized seniors experience functional decline during a single hospital stay. Hospital acquired delirium, an acute confused state with sudden onset and physical deterioration, is the new centre of attention and it can be prevented or at least managed.
It’s programs like HELP that will make a difference in the hospital acute care phase and the transition home for many seniors. Trillium Health Centre – Seniors Health Services has invested in seniors’ care because so many of the elderly get lost in the shuffle of a bewildering hospital stay. By having an age-friendly focused program, seniors will receive the attention to detail needed to keep them physically, mentally and socially healthy while recovering in hospital. The program includes:
• Daily visitor programs
• Therapeutic activities
• Early mobilization
• Hearing and vision attention
• Nutrition and fluids management
• Sleep enhancement
Specially trained volunteers, who are supported by a clinical team, interact with seniors in the hospital on a regular basis by providing enhanced elements of care that benefit their health and well being. For example:
• Keeping the mind active with a daily game of cards;
• Ensuring seniors are using their hearing aids, glasses and mobility aids, such as canes or walkers;
• Encouraging and monitoring of proper nutritional support including appropriate fluid balance or assistance with opening containers;
• Supporting seniors with early mobilization or their exercise routines;
• Maintaining bedtime routines;
• And, most importantly, clarifying questions and helping with transition.
HELP results in higher physical and mental function and the maintenance of independence, which makes the transition from hospital to home more successful, eases the turbulence of hospitalization and reduces hospital readmission.
The fundraising event, I Love Aging and I Don’t Want to Quit, featured John Fraser – a comedian, educator and actor. We were taken on a journey into his dynamic retirement of fearless aging and joyful living. John’s truly unique show was able to motivate, inspire and illuminate an audience of 300 seniors, and every cent raised went towards the HELP program. It’s events like this and community support that make a program successful.
Seniors account for 85 per cent of patients in hospital beds, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information report, Health Care in Canada, 2011: A Focus on Seniors and Aging Canadians. At a cost of $1,100 per day for an acute bed, long-term hospital stays are not beneficial either for our aging loved ones or our health-care system. HELP can keep our seniors on the right track while in hospital, with focused recovery and transition back to their homes as quickly and as safely as possible.
For more information about HELP, contact Joanne Chen, Elder Life Specialist at Trillium Health Centre. Joanne is a physiotherapist who believes that investing in quality time through regular interactions will improve cognition as well as the quality of life of all seniors. She can be reached at 905-848-7580 ext. 2330 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.