Niagara Health’s senior-friendly focus gets welcome boost

Derek McNallyWe are making great progress with our commitment to senior-friendly healthcare.

Healthcare professionals from a number of disciplines at the hospital meet monthly to develop the Niagara Health strategy for senior-friendly care and share new practices that our clinical teams can adopt. We also look at opportunities to develop stronger partnerships with community agencies that have a focus on healthy aging.

This increased focus on seniors’ health and wellness is important given the high – and growing – number of older adults living in our beautiful region. More than half of acute care patients at Niagara Health are over 65 years old. There will be an 18 per cent 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 healthcare planning considers how we will increase access to better and more coordinated care for these important members of our communities in Niagara.

So what does senior-friendly healthcare mean? What might it look like? Our senior-friendly focus could include a range of elements, such as facility design that incorporates rest areas and lighting that reduces glare, care tailored for older adults with memory issues, programming that maintains physical and cognitive function, and interpersonal communication that respects the hearing, visual and other unique needs of this population.
Our work is guided by two provincial frameworks that ensure senior-friendly initiatives continue to evolve and meet the needs of older patients and their families. These frameworks cover a number of important areas, among them independence and quality of life, compassion and respect, safety and security, and greater collaboration between older adults and care providers. Our teams are very excited to take this important journey together with our older patients and their families.

There is also a tremendous focus at Niagara Health on the care we currently provide to improve the experience and outcomes for older adults.
Our safety programs look specifically at areas where seniors are at risk. For example, up to 48 per cent of hospital falls in Canada result in injury and older adults have the highest risk. Falls prevention and reduction of harm is a focus of all of our care teams. 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. There are many other examples of this type of work taking place across our hospital sites.

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.