A senior-friendly emergency department may not look much different from any other ED. It is certainly true that the core of a senior-friendly ED is the people and processes.
However, there are a few supplies that are definitely useful to ensure safety and comfort.
Here are a few examples:
- Walking aids especially two-wheeled walkers and canes (Make sure that you have a few available in the ER, and having the possibility to buy or rent them is a plus);
- Portable hearing assist devices (known as Pocket talkers) to increase communication
- Non-slip socks (prevent falls in the ED and at home)
- Geriatric chairs (favor mobilization)
- Extra chairs for families (They needs to feel that they are welcomed to stay as long as they want with their loved ones)
- Decubitus ulcer prevention mattress (expensive to buy – but ulcers are expensive to treat!)
- Condom catheters (Help to avoid UTI)
- Visual orientation improvement (calendars, clocks, access to natural light)
- Handrails on wall and hallways
If you are preparing a proposal for improvement in your ED, these items above are the ones to prioritize for the following reasons:
- Decrease falls in the ED
- Decrease admission and accelerate discharge
- Increase communication and family involvement (decreasing admission!)
- Increase mobilisation (decrease deconditioning, decrease LOS in hospital)
- Decrease UTI (aka delirium, hospital stay prolongation, antibiotic cost, c. difficile, etc.)
- Decrease delirium incidence (decrease LOS, mortality and morbidity)
Overall, any of these pieces of equipment is absolutely a good investment!
If your hospital is planning on major renovation, then there are a few more items to consider that are not covered here (e.g. wall colour contrast, etc.). While it would be a great thing if every ED could do some renovations (build walls to separate beds instead of curtains, increase space etc), it is not a barrier to get to the final product: an effective senior-friendly ED.
The guidelines end this section with this line, and so will I:
“Hospitals are expected to utilize their existing resources to meet the needs of this population. With minimal additional expense for equipment suggested above, geriatric care can be optimized.”
References and Resources
- The Geri-ED Guidelines Equipment and Supplies section