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Our Stories

New courses at St. Michael’s provide staff training on caring for hospitalized older adults

Toronto, June 6, 2018

By Selma Al-Samarrai

Laura Shapiro (left) tryied on an age simulation suit with the help of Lindsay Beavers
St. Michael's occupational therapist Laura Shapiro (left) tried on an age simulation suit at the second annual Interprofessional Geriatric Education Day with the help of Lindsay Beavers, collaborative learning specialist, Education. The suit helps health-care providers understand age-related changes by mimicking joint stiffness, sensory changes in hands and feet, and vision and hearing changes. (Photo by Selma Al-Samarrai)

Frances Carbonel began her nursing career in General Internal Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital just over 11 years ago. During these years, she often worked with elderly patients who had multiple health conditions, occasionally also including frailties and cognitive impairments.

“I worked with many patients over 65, and I found myself wanting to help improve their health outcomes so that they can function well and subsequently as independently as possible in their own homes,” explains Carbonel.

It was through this interest that she decided to pursue one of the four evidence-based geriatric education courses at St. Michael’s. This education program, launched in 2017, includes a standard geriatric curriculum designed to improve care of hospitalized older adults.

After taking the course, Carbonel transitioned her career entirely towards geriatric care by joining the Elders Clinic at St. Michael’s.

“The need for standardized, accessible geriatric focused education was identified through staff feedback in previous needs assessments,” explains Lori Whelan, Quality Improvement Specialist, Senior Friendly Hospital Strategy.

To date, 106 staff members have completed at least one of the courses.

Carbonel took the Geriatric Resource Nurse course, which is designed to educate nurses on providing acute care for hospitalized older adults. Seven modules are completed online, and the remaining seven are completed in class at the Interprofessional Geriatric Education day along with other health disciplines to enhance collaborative learning. The event is organized by the Senior Friendly Education work group and is co-facilitated by clinicians leading best practice geriatric care.

2017-18 statistics representing the most widely used services by patients over the age of 65
Click here or on the image above for a larger version or to see a text version.

“I really enjoyed the course, and I especially appreciated being able to dialogue with a multidisciplinary team during the Education Day because it really does require a group effort, at all levels, to improve outcomes for older adults,” said Carbonel.

For more information on the Geriatric education program, contact Lori Whelan at whelanl@smh.ca.

The courses

Geriatric Resource Nurse Course

  • Topic: Evidence-based care for hospitalized older adults.
  • Length: Seven online modules and seven modules during an Interprofessional Geriatric Education Day
  • Target audience: Nurses

The Introduction to Gerontology Course

  • Topic: Recognition of age-related changes in patients and communication skills with elder patients and their families
  • Length: Four online modules
  • Target audience: Clinical and non-clinical staff who interact with elderly adults

Critical Care Nursing of Older Adults

  • Topic: Older adults who require critical and urgent care
  • Length: Six online modules
  • Target audience: Nurses

Nursing Care of the Older Adults with Cancer

  • Topic: Complexities and considerations when caring for older adults with cancer
  • Length: Six online modules
  • Target audience: Nurses

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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