Mobility is focus of AAPA’s 3rd annual Awareness Week

In the JGH solarium, where elderly patients often come to relax, Elisabeth Daviau (left) and Linda Alfonso discuss details of AAPA Awareness Week.
In the JGH solarium, where elderly patients often come to relax, Elisabeth Daviau (left) and Linda Alfonso discuss details of AAPA Awareness Week.

Keeping elderly patients moving while hospitalized is widely seen as beneficial for their recovery—a theme that will be central to the upcoming Awareness Week for the Specialized Approach to Senior Care.

The 3rd annual event (October 28 to November 1) is designed to further sensitize staff to the provincial program— more widely known as the Approche Adaptée à la Personne Âgée (AAPA) — that aims to improve the level of senior-friendly care in all departments and care units.

AAPA, which was introduced in 2011, recognizes that older adults have unique needs that must be addressed by staff in all fields, so that care can be improved during hospitalization.

This year, the focus is on mobility among patients aged 75 and older, as a way to counter physical and mental decline. “As the saying goes, use it or lose it,” says Linda Alfonso, a Clinical Consultant in Nursing the Division of Geriatric Medicine at the Jewish General Hospital.

“We have an aging population, and they’re living longer,” adds Ms. Alfonso, an organizer of the Awareness Week. “Mobility is a key element in their road to recovery.”

As the proportion of seniors in the population rises, many hospitals, including the JGH, are facing growing challenges in caring for them. On average, 80 per cent of the patients who are admitted to the JGH are elderly, and in Quebec as a whole, the length of stay of an elderly patient is 10.9 days.

In fact, the hospital’s population of elderly patients is growing faster than the overall increase of seniors in Montreal. In general, the JGH handles many more elderly patients than any of Montreal’s other teaching hospitals.

Elisabeth Daviau, a Nurse Clinician in Geriatrics, notes that if even one hospitalization does not go well for an elderly individual, it can tip that person over the edge, especially if their condition was not optimal before being admitted.

According to Ms. Daviau, studies of hospitalized patients have shown in that, on average, 83 per cent of the hospital stay is spent lying in bed, which slows down recovery time.

For this reason, staff should get elderly patients moving early and continuously during their hospitalization. This means encouraging seniors to take part in routine activities, such as getting up to use the bathroom, brushing their hair, or eating while sitting up in a chair.

“It may seem trivial,” says Ms. Daviau, but these are small things that can make a huge difference for the elderly who are hospitalized.”

Fortunately, the message seems to be getting through. The most recent audit at the JGH found that 80 per cent of older patients are currently being mobilized during hospitalization. Advocates want to achieve even better results.

Awareness Week at the JGH will feature lectures, as well as information booths in the main lobby. On Monday, October 28, at 12:30 p.m. in B-106, Dr. Susan Mitchell, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will speak about dilemmas in the care of the person with advanced dementia.

And Thursday, October 31, at 1:00 p.m. in A-139, Dr. Michael Goldfarb, of the JGH will deliver a presentation about the nurse-driven early mobility plan.

On Friday, November 1, staff from 15 hospital units will be presented with the Excellence in Care of Older Adults Awards for helping patients maintain or improve overall function while hospitalized. The recipients will be honoured, starting at 10:00 a.m. in Carrefour Lea Polansky.

Also on the agenda are awards for specific units and individuals, as well as numerous gifts for staff to recognize their involvement, participation and dedication to high-quality care for the elderly.