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TOH pioneers geriatric psychiatry acute care in Ontario

 
TOH pioneers geriatric psychiatry acute care in Ontario

Jodi Lusk (left) and Vera Hula (right) are TOH’s new Geriatric Psychiatry Behavioural Support Nurses – the first of their kind in an Ontario acute-care setting. Dianne Rossy (centre left) and Dr. Kiran Rabheru have worked hard to bring the program to TOH.

Meet Jodi Lusk and Vera Hula – TOH’s two new Geriatric Psychiatry Behavioural Support Nurses. They are pioneers in their field as they provide support to acute-care teams caring for senior patients with dementia and challenging behaviour.

Although Ontario was one of the first provinces to support similar programs in the community and long-term care facilities, this specialized program has not been funded by a LHIN for acute-care settings before now.

“If it works here, it’ll be rolled out elsewhere,” said Dr. Kiran Rabheru, Medical Director of Geriatric Psychiatry. “To our knowledge, we are the first in Ontario to have these full-time dedicated nurses in acute care. It’s new and innovative.”

Lusk and Hula, who work at the General and Civic campuses respectively, will consult, assess behaviour, demonstrate and model effective strategies, and teach best practices to other health-care team members.

“We not only provide care strategies for the patient, but we are also working closely with the family, interdisciplinary team and our community partners to provide seamless patient-centred care,” said Lusk.

Dementia is common but remains under-recognized and under-diagnosed among seniors who come to hospital for other reasons. They often have behaviour problems that, until now, have not been systematically addressed. Patients may be verbally or physically aggressive, wander, or refuse to bathe or get dressed.

“The trigger for this team will be the behaviour issues,” said Dianne Rossy, Advanced Practice Nurse in Geriatrics. “It’s often the behaviour that may increase length of stay or affect their transition back to the community.”

With Lusk and Hula helping to identify behaviours and offer care strategies early on, patients will have improved care and shorter hospital stays – all of which supports TOH’s goal to provide senior-friendly care.

 
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