Monday, 28 March 2011

Community Care for the Elderly: Across Borders

In today's Globe and Mail, Lisa Priest reports that Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto will open a new Acute Care for Elders unit next month. The unit is designed to keep ailing seniors in their own homes for longer as well as to reduce the likelihood of readmission to hospital after a discharge. It is common knowledge that far too many acute care hospital beds are taken by seniors awaiting placement in nursing homes. For every day that they spend in bed, it will take elderly patients two days to gain back the strength they lost - to say nothing of the risk of secondary infections picked up in hospitals. The new unit will offer home visits by GPs as well as specialists and a new 28 bed inpatient unit at Mt. Sinai for non-surgical elderly patients. But what really caught my eye about this story was its link with Goa, India. The group Alzheimer's Disease International recently held its annual conference where new approaches like the one at Mt. Sinai were described alongside other initiatives from developing countries. Amit Dias of the Dementia Society of Goa (India) described one family who tied their wandering elderly relative to a bed (a practice that is all too common as means of controlling the behaviour of dementia sufferers all over the world!). The family loved their relative, but feared for her safety when they were out of the house, even for a short time. The society devised a system of training lay people as home-care advisors and now the lady attends church every day, where she is under the caring and watchful eyes of the practicing choir members. We have much to learn from an exchange of information and experience with other countries and cultures. It's good to know that the conversation has begun.

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