By Holly Gainer
University of Alabama at Birmingham Medicine has been recognized as an Age-Friendly Health System by The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. UAB is the only hospital in Alabama to receive this recognition.
UAB Medicine joins more than 100 health systems acknowledged as working to make high-quality care for older adults even more tailored to patients’ goals and preferences.
“Older adults should receive safe, high-quality health care that centers around their unique needs. By incorporating the Age-Friendly Initiatives into our system, UAB is training health care providers on evidence-based strategies for caring for older adults,” said Emily Simmons, MSN, nursing professional development specialist for UAB’s Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders program. “Many of these health care providers later transition to new sites of care throughout Alabama, which means we are impacting care at UAB and throughout the state.”
The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative is based on a series of practices focused on addressing four elements of care for older patients:
What Matters: Know and align care with each older adult’s specific health outcome goals and care preferences, including, but not limited to, end-of-life care, and across settings of care.
Medication: If medication is necessary, use Age-Friendly medications 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: Ensure that older adults move safely every day in order to maintain function and do what matters.
The Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care in the UAB School of Medicine created Alabama’s first Acute Care for Elders Unit, which is a model of inpatient geriatric care. The ACE Unit focuses on maintaining patient function by utilizing an interdisciplinary care team trained in geriatrics to aggressively manage geriatric syndromes while a hospitalist physician manages each patient’s acute medical diagnosis. The unit is at UAB Highlands; however, the ACE method is being implemented in other areas of the health system through various geriatric-specific initiatives.
UAB is also home to the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, which is a university-wide interdisciplinary center. Its mission is to promote the health and well-being of older adults and their families through research, education and outreach initiatives.
The goal of the initiative is to make 20 percent of hospitals and health systems in the United States age-friendly by 2020. For more information, visit the Institute for Healthcare Improvement website.