Niagara Health continues to work toward becoming more senior friendly.
You may have heard about hospitals focusing on becoming more senior-friendly. Some of the changes needed to do this are related to physical environment. New facilities, for example, are being designed with shorter distances between parking lots and buildings so seniors don’t have to walk as far to access hospital services. As well, larger text is being used on directional signs to make them easier to read. These physical changes toward becoming more senior friendly are an important part of Niagara Health’s planning.
There is also a tremendous focus on the care we provide to improve the experience and outcomes for older adults. Our commitment to senior-friendly care is not in addition to what we do, it’s at the core of our practice.
More than half of acute care patients at Niagara Health are over 65 years old. There will be an 18 percent increase in the demand for care for seniors that require a hospital stay over the next 10 years, and a 45 percent over the next 20 years. Our planning considers how we will increase access to better and more coordinated care for this population, and ensure the healthcare system is sustainable for generations to come.
Older adult illness does not present the same as with younger adults. Seniors are more likely to have multiple chronic diseases and impaired cognition, which means they may need additional support for daily living activities like getting dressed, bathing and taking medication.
The Ontario Senior Friendly Hospital Framework provides guidelines for hospital-wide improvements in services for older adults. Evidence shows better outcomes for older adults emerge when five key components are considered together: organizational support, process of care, emotional and behavioral environment, ethics in clinical care and research, and physical environment. The work we are doing at Niagara Health to become more senior friendly is guided by all of these components.
Niagara Health is currently implementing several new senior-friendly measures including screening for delirium, which is an acute state of confusion that puts patients at higher risk for many things including prolonged hospital stays. Our staff is receiving training on how to assess and interpret the results to assist with identifying symptoms of confusion or delirium which helps us to better meet the needs of our patients.
Falls are another concern for seniors. Up to 48 per cent of hospital falls in Canada result in injury and older adults have the highest risk. That’s why we have a falls prevention strategy in place to identify patients at risk for falling and implement preventative measures to limit those risks.
Niagara Health’s purpose is to provide extraordinary caring, every patient, every time. We are committed to enhancing the care our older adults receive while in hospital and enabling successful transitions home or to the next appropriate level of care.
Being senior friendly is the standard of care at Niagara Health, and we continue to work with our partners and community members to offer services that best reflect the needs of all our patients.