RCH Achieves Age-Friendly Health System Designation, Taking Older Patient Care to the Next Level

Rooks County Health Center (RCH)  is now recognized as part of a movement to improve health care for older adults, contributing to an initial goal of 20 percent of all U.S. hospitals and health systems becoming age-friendly.

As part of the Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative that began in 2017, The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States,​ are helping hospitals and other care settings implement a set of evidence-based interventions specifically designed to improve care for older adults.

In order to achieve recognition as a member of the initiative, RCH staff worked for nearly a year in acquiring the necessary training as well as compiling and submitting extensive data, including submitting a presentation to the American Hospital Association (AHA).

A multi-department group led by Stephanie Bjornstad, RN and RCH Quality Lead, developed a shared assessment that can be viewed by any RCH staff involved in the initiative. This assessment pulls the latest documentation on a particular patient on specific age related interventions from Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy, Social Services, Pharmacy, Nursing and Dietary departments.

RCH then presented to AHA a plan and measurable goals for the Age-Friendly Health System program and submitted 3 months’ of data on the number of patients reviewed through a newly formed Age-Friendly Health System Committee. This committee meets weekly to review these patients. The committee also reviews all swing bed patients admitted to RCH.

This was followed by the implementation of a set of evidence-based interventions designed to improve care for older patients known as the “4Ms” – What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility.

The “4Ms” are a series of practices focused on addressing four essential elements of care for older patients:

  • What Matters: Knowing and aligning care with each older adult’s specific health outcome goals and care preferences in​clu​ding, but not limited to, end-of-life care, and across settings of care.
  • Medication: If medication is necessary, using Age-Friendly medication that do not interfere with What Matters to the older adult, Mobility, or Mentation across settings of care.
  • Mentation: Prevent, identify, treat, and manage dementia, depression, and delirium across settings of care.​
  • Mobility: Ensuring that older adults move safely every day in order to maintain function so they can do What Matters.

The interventions can be tested and adapted by participating in what are called Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Communities. These are collaborative entities comprised of health care teams from all over the country who are committed to sharing data and learning together. All teams strive toward reliably implementing best practices across emergency departments, intensive care units, medical-surgical units, general wards, and primary and specialty care settings.

RCH now joins more than 100 health systems throughout the United States in working to make care for older adults even more tailored to patients’ goals and preferences and consistently of high-quality.

“RCH has always been on the forefront of patient care, and that’s why we chose to participate in this vital effort. We look forward to both sharing our best practices and learning what’s working for others,” said Bjornstad. “The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative is an important part of Rooks County Health Center’s ongoing effort to provide every older adult with the best care possible.”

For more information, visit www.ihi.org/agefriendly

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