The Birmingham VA Health Care System is part of a movement to improve health care for older adults. The initiative’s goal is that 20% of U.S. hospitals and health systems are age-friendly by 2020.
The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative includes The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Both are in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States. Together, they help hospitals and other care settings implement evidence-based interventions to improve care for older adults.
“It’s awesome to provide enhanced care for our aging Veterans. We are the first VA medical center to reach participant-level recognition within the ‘Wave 6 Action Community,'” said Dr. Ella Bowman. Bowman is section chief of Geriatric Medicine at the Birmingham VA.
Bowman and a patient are in the photo above.
The interventions can be tested and adapted by participating in Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Communities. Health care teams from all over the country make up the collaborative entities. The entities share data and learn together.
The teams strive to implement best practices across emergency departments, intensive care units, medical-surgical units, general wards, and primary and specialty care settings.
The Birmingham VA is making care for older adults more tailored to patients’ goals and preferences. Birmingham is one of more than 100 health systems in the system.
Provide elderly adults with the best care
“We have always been on the forefront of patient care. That’s why we want to participate in this vital effort. We look forward to both sharing our best practices and learning what’s working for others,” said Bowman. “The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative is an important part of our overarching vision to provide every older adult with the best care possible.”
The initiative is based on a series of practices that address four essential elements of care:
- Know and align care with each older adult’s specific health outcome goals and care preferences. This includes end-of-life care and across settings of care.
- If medication is necessary, use age-friendly medication that doesn’t interfere with what matters to the older adult.
- Prevent, identify, treat and manage dementia, depression and delirium across settings of care.
- Ensure older adults move safely every day to maintain function and do what matters.
For more information, visit www.ihi.org/agefriendly.
Derrick Smith is a public affairs specialist for the Birmingham VA Health Care System.