South West Senior Friendly Hospital Strategy

A stay in hospital can be overwhelming for anyone. For seniors, a hospital stay can increase their frailty, and sometimes lead to more health problems, or even death.

As of 2014-2015:

  • 1/5 of the population in the South West LHIN is made up of seniors
  • Seniors account for 59% of acute hospital stays in Ontario
  • Seniors account for 43% of all provincial health spending in Ontario

Senior Friendly Hospital Strategy

Ontario's Senior Friendly Hospital Strategy is focused on helping seniors stay healthy while they are hospitalized, so they can safety return home. The Strategy has been endorsed by the Regional Geriatric Programs of Ontario and all 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).

The strategy plans to:

  • Prevent unnecessary physical and medical decline of seniors in hospital
  • Prevent future hospital stays
  • Allow seniors to remain independent in their homes longer

The Senior Friendly Hospital Strategy encourages hospitals to consider the needs of seniors in all aspects of the organization. For example when:

  • Developing strategic plans
  • Tracking and measuring improvement
  • Developing care plans
  • Communicating with patients and visitors
  • Designing and renovating buildings
  • Purchasing equipment and furniture
  • Creating way-finding signage

The Framework

To be a Senior Friendly Hospital, five components must be considered. Seniors receive better results when all five components are considered together.

  • Organizational support - Does the organization show it is committed to being a Senior Friendly Hospital?
  • Processes of care - Does the care and treatment of seniors take into account the most up-to-date research?
  • Emotional and behavioural environment - Do staff interact with seniors in a respectful, supportive and caring way?
  • Ethics in clinical care and research - Do care providers, researchers, and others ensure they protect a senior's independence, choice and rights?
  • Physical environment - Is the physical environment sensitive to the needs of seniors?

Provincial Priorities

Across Ontario, hospitals are working on ways to prevent delirium and avoid functional decline.

Delirium is a sudden change in mental abilities that causes confusion and other changes in thinking and behaviour. Delirium is not a normal part of aging. Approximately 15-22% of seniors will develop delirium due to hospitalization. Delirium can be caused by:

  • A sudden medical illness (flu or bladder infection)
  • A "brain event" (stroke)
  • A reaction to a medication
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, medications, and/or nicotine

Functional decline is a new loss of independence in walking, moving, dressing, toileting, and/or bathing. Seniors who are hospitalized can experience a decline in their abilities because of long periods of bed rest and decreased activity. For every day of bed rest, seniors lose 1-5% of their muscle strength.

It is important for patients to get out of bed on a regular basis while in hospital. Why?

  • Prevents bed sores
  • Improves mood and sleep
  • Improves breathing and blood pressure
  • Decreases pain in joints and prevents loss of strength
  • Decreases risk of choking when eating and improves appetite
  • Prevents longer hospital stays
  • Prevents unnecessary admissions to Long-Term Care

South West LHIN Hospital Organizations - Work to Date

The South West LHIN hospital organizations are committed to advancing the Strategy in the region. In 2015, each of the 14 South West LHIN hospital organizations identified a Lead to steer implementation of the Senior Friendly Hospital Strategy in their hospitals and to participate on the regional steering committee: the South West Senior Friendly Hospital Task Group. The South West Senior Friendly Hospital Task Group provides strategic direction and leadership to advance the principles of SFH and promote an enduring "movement" that makes a Senior Friendly approach a way of doing business.

Relevant Documents and Helpful Links

For more information, please contact:

Lynn Hinds - Director, Sub-Region Planning & Integration
South West LHIN