by Renate Crizzle
In June of this year the Seniors Care Network, formerly known as the Regional Specialized Geriatric Services, funded by the Central East Local Health Integration Network (CeLHIN) hosted the first annual regional conference focused on health care for seniors . This event provided an opportunity for 170 health care providers and researchers to discuss and present health care related issues, practices or research related to the health of older adults.
Health care professionals shared information on senior friendly, person centered programs and initiatives intended to improve the experience of seniors across the health system. There were sessions on topics such as Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network, Transition Care, Falls Prevention, Dementia Care, and Partners Advancing Transition in Healthcare.
In addition to the learning and networking opportunities, there were also award presentations for abstracts or posters on various senior health care related topics submitted for the conference by the attendees. There were 3 types of awards for 3 different categories, judged by expert panels: a Reviewers Choice award, a Poster Competition award and an Our Choice award.
For the Our Choice award, community representatives were invited to be part of the expert panel in selecting the topic of most importance to health care for older people from a consumer/community point of view. I was invited to be part of this panel and had a chance to review the submissions. What struck me while reading the abstracts was that in many instances it was the front line staff that took the initiative to innovate and improve caretaking practices. This actually shows that they are committed to their work rather than just looking at it as a job. I would hope to be cared for by one of those nurses if ever I get sick!
All the topics submitted were useful in my opinion, but the one that stood out for me as most useful to the community was a guide on how to deal with a person with dementia. There are many people in the community who are struggling as caregivers for a loved one with dementia. The guide is called Shifting Focus: a guide to understanding dementia behaviour. As it turns out, this guide is being made freely available and can be accessed at www.shiftingfocus.ca