A new program at The Scarborough Hospital’s Emergency Departments (EDs) will improve the care of seniors who may have mental health or addiction issues.
The ED-Geriatric Mental Health program (ED-GMH) was recently launched at the Birchmount and General campuses. It “allows staff to use a different lens to see the geriatric population,” says Shirin Vellani, a Geriatric Emergency Management Nurse Practitioner at the General campus.
Last fall, medical and clinical staff in the EDs started training on the program’s e-learning module, which provides specific clinical and practical knowledge and skills. E-learning components include:
- How to recognize changes in cognition, mood, function and behaviour in seniors;
- A set of standardized assessment tools to screen for the ‘3Ds’ – delirium, dementia and depression;
- A newly designed process and recording form to help staff understand when and how to apply the ‘3D’ tool with a clear definition of roles and responsibilities for each team member; and
- Culturally sensitive strategies for staff to interact effectively with the hospital’s diverse populations in the ED setting.
Santy Thomas, a Registered Nurse at the General campus ED who has completed the e-learning module, finds that she can now “more easily identify elderly patients in the ED who require this sort of care and provide them with the proper treatment.”
“These issues are very common for seniors, but can also be easily missed in the ED, so this program will be very beneficial,” adds General campus Social Worker Scott Wisner.
“The training put the ‘3Ds’ on my radar and helped me better identify the causes and know what to look for.”
“The ED-GMH program has been successfully introduced in the EDs of seven academic hospitals in Toronto and has won an award for excellence at the Ontario Hospital Association’s Health Achieve conference,” explains Shirin. “We’re very proud to be the first hospital in the Central East Local Health Integration Network to implement it.”
Most physicians, nurses and allied health staff in the both of the hospital’s EDs completed the ED-GMH e-learning module at the end of 2011. After six months of staff using the new program, changes in the diagnosis of mental health and addictions issues will be evaluated.