Program ‘transforming lives’ of elderly patients

Dr Lipski with one of his patients, Frank (95)

A new trial into geriatric care conducted by Brisbane Waters Private Hospital has reportedly transformed the lives of elderly residents.

More than 21 per cent of residents living on the Central Coast are aged 65 years and above so the hospital launched the 12-month trial based on a range of evidence-based medicine principles introduced by a local geriatrician, Dr Peter Lipski.

Brisbane Waters Private Hospital Director of Clinical Services and CEO, Debbra Ritter, said Lipski’s principles were introduced to take age out of the equation when it comes to clinical care at the facility.

“By introducing a holistic approach which focuses on core pillars of care, we have been able to see our geriatric patients dramatically improve, recover and return home in greater numbers than previously experienced,” Ritter said.

“Through measures to improve and address malnutrition, blood pressure, adverse drug reactions, the introduction of extensive pre-op and post-op geriatric assessments, we have seen a dramatic transformation in our older patients.

“We’ve introduced changes including meal times, which allows for greater gym time and we’ve also worked closely with our catering manager to change menus.

“The project has been done in collaboration with Occupational Therapists, Nursing staff, Dietitians, Dr Lipski and Physiotherapists to improve services including the development of a screening tool which aims to identify potential malnutrition.

“Through boosting further education, awareness and the importance of nutrition to both staff and patients, we’ve seen an improvement in compliance across a range of areas and as a result, minimised the impact of ageism when it comes to geriatric care.”

A project entitled HUNGER (Helping Under Nourished Get Energy to Recover) has also been introduced at the hospital as part of a working group which focuses on empowering nutrition for recovery.

76-year-old Umina Beach local, Douglas Lawrence, said the care he has received under the guidance of Lipski’s principles has transformed his life.

“To be seen as a whole person and not just an older person has been incredible, Dr Lipski didn’t just listen to my main symptom and concerns, he took in the full, whole picture of my health and found there were a few areas that needed to be put back on track,” Lawrence said.

“I am a Vietnam Vet, and this was the first time I had been encouraged to undergo the DVA process to streamline my care.

“It’s hard for us returned service men who are still experiencing survivor’s guilt to put their hand up and ask for help.

“Dr Lipski really helped me to not only take my health seriously, but he advocated for an operation and treatment that has fixed an injury that has impacted me my whole life.

“Seeing people for their symptoms and not just their age really matters, and my overall health is now the best it’s ever been.”

According to Lipski, who is the author of ‘Your Elderly Parent’s Failing Health,’ blaming old age on medical conditions or symptoms effectively denies older people proper medical care.

“No one is ever too old for treatment, one of the reasons that Geriatric Medicine is so successful is because there is attention to detail, getting the simple things right and a holistic overview of the whole patient, not such a specific organ approach,” Lipski said.

“We need to destroy the myth that old age is associated with disease, disability and suffering; it simply isn’t true.

“Older patients can have spectacular improvements in their serious medical conditions because small interventions can make a huge difference to their health overall.

“By applying a holistic approach which tackles a reduction in drugs and adverse drug reactions, improving nutrition and mobility, managing low blood pressure, treating organ specific disease and chronic pain you can achieve great outcomes for older patients.

“Older people should be able to function just as effectively as a younger person and it has been incredible to see these principles applied to clinical care at Brisbane Waters Private Hospital and the results really do speak for themselves.”

It’s expected the local hospital will now share its outcomes from the trial and encourage further implementation of the principles to remove age as a catch all for illness in geriatric patients.

“By removing ageism and age from the clinical discussion and instead looking closer at patients to understand their symptoms and underlying illness, we have a greater chance of not only helping our patients but improving their overall quality of life, so they recover, return home and continue to live a fulfilled and healthy life,” Ritter said.

Media release, Nov 8
Healthe Care

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