Cambridge, Ontario - Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH) celebrated a milestone anniversary of its innovative Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP). Launched in January, 2012, CMH was the first hospital in the region to have implemented this evidence-based program developed by Dr. Sharon Inouye from the Yale University School of Medicine.
“Patients who are elderly are more prone to mental and physical decline when they are in hospital. This can result in longer hospital stays and more complications. This program helps them return to their homes, where they want to be,” says Maria Boyes, Clinical Nurse Specialist with HELP.
While in hospital, geriatric patients receive specially designed interventions by volunteers who have gone through an extensive training program. These volunteers, in coordination with CMH staff, keep patients engaged through communication, socialization, mental stimulation, exercise, and companionship in efforts to preserve their cognitive, physical, and emotional well-being. Theresa Milani, Elder Life Specialist and lead trainer of HELP volunteers adds: “Over 135 patients have been enrolled in the program and our volunteers have performed over 5200 interventions this past year. HELP volunteers are the backbone of the program and they make a real difference in the lives of our elderly patients.”
Over the past year, CMH’s HELP was supported by 30 volunteers providing more than 2200 volunteer hours over three shifts a day, Monday through Friday. Next year will prove to be just as busy. “We finished helping other facilities in our region roll out their programs and will now focus on expanding HELP to other inpatient units within our hospital,” says Milani.