Bringing Age-Friendly Care to the Veteran Bedside

How a Southeast Veterans Affairs Medical Center revolutionized a national Age-Friendly Care movement to better care for people aged 65+.

Dennis Shuman, Client Success Manager

The IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement) has spearheaded the Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative – an action plan to address the growing challenge of reliably providing evidence-based practice to every older adult at every care interaction. As the US population ages past 65 years over the next 15 years, the following goals need to be achieved: follow an essential set of evidence-based practices, cause no harm, and align with What Matters to the older adult and their family caregivers.1

In the VHA, the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement manifests as the desire to deliver safe, reliable, high-quality health care in every setting based on what matters most to Veterans and their families. One Southeast Medical Center revolutionized the care for patients 65 and older, who primarily live at home, by utilizing Get Well to ignite their Age-Friendly Care practices in the hospital and achieve measurable outcomes in Veteran satisfaction.

The ACE (Acute Care for the Elderly) Unit at one VA partner facility created a unique workflow for elderly patients in this special environment. The unit identified two main goals of implementing the workflow: maintain or improve the patients’ level of autocracy, and prevent or address high-risk complications while in the hospital. 

To achieve these goals, the team attended to the individual comfort, safety, and care needs of patients 65 and older by centering around the 4 Ms: Medication, Mentation, Mobility and What Matters

Medication: the clinical team did a comprehensive review of medications, unprescribing when necessary. The patients also had the ability to view all medications on their TVs with our live integration to the hospital pharmacy. 

Mentation: to aid in depression or delirium, patients were able to request puzzles, games, books, coloring pages, fidget spinners and even interactive pets. 

Mobility: studies show that patients who walk two times per day for ten minutes were able to leave hospital a day earlier, so the team encouraged frequent walks through their STRIDE program. 

What matters: the team used palliative expertise to align care with the goals of the patient.

In order to create a unique and personalized first interaction with patients and their families, the facility built a custom welcome video set to automatically play on the patient’s Get Well TV upon admission. The video introduced the clinical team and highlighted the type of care they should expect to receive while in the ACE Unit. The Get Well TV not only functioned as a communication channel, but also allowed the Veteran patients to submit other requests, making their stay more enjoyable. Some examples include: enrolling in the STRIDE2 program to stay active, requesting puzzles & games to stay entertained or ordering an extra snack after dinner. All of these requests were routed to the appropriate team member as needed, without adding workload burden to clinicians caring for other patients. 

By bringing Age-Friendly Care to the bedside, this facility successfully achieved their goals of improving the quality of life for their Veteran patients by decreasing Length of Stay (LOS) and readmissions, while elevating patient satisfaction inside the hospital. Get Well is proud to enable the best quality of care for Veteran patients with our VA Medical Center partners. 

To learn more about Get Well’s solutions for Veteran care, visit our site: 

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