Senior-friendly hospital: a positive approach for senior care recipients

The Belgian population is getting increasingly older. We have noticed that in the average age of our patients. How can we keep their specific needs in mind and ensure that they have a good patient experience? We received a few tips from Marc Vankerkhoven, the Nursing-Paramedic Department Head of the geriatric care programme.

Three pillars of care

Three pillars of care

Older patients may suffer from typical age-related ailments or an underlying condition, such as dementia. For this reason, their care sometimes requires a little more patience and a targeted approach.

Several guidelines, grouped according to three pillars, serve as useful touchstones for all the hospital staff: from our nurses and paramedics to our personnel in the technical department and the cleaning services.

Professional and egalitarian attitude

  • Treat every patient and caregiver with respect.
  • Always remain patient and empathetic.

Practice active listening and speak respectfully to the patient.

  • Speak clearly and calmly, using language that is easy to understand.
  • Do not use diminutives when addressing the patient.

Establish a positive relationship

  • Start with what the patient can still do independently.
  • Be honest and transparent, even if you do not know something.

The patient is the priority

The patient is the priority

Positive patient care aligns with our vision of value-based healthcare (value-driven care). The patient is our priority in the care process. We, as care professionals, combine active listening with an open and empathetic approach. This ensures that patients, along with their caregiver and family members, are satisfied with our hospital’s services. This, in turn, favours a positive atmosphere and mutual understanding, which also improves staff satisfaction and the quality of our care.

Senior-friendly is also patient-friendly. When we all strive to treat patients professionally, appropriately and empathetically, while demonstrating patience, communicating clearly and inviting the caregiver's participation, we take important steps toward a more senior-friendly and dementia-friendly hospital.

Marc Vankerkhoven

Initiatives for better care

Initiatives for better care

At our hospital, we do our best to offer the best possible care to senior patients.

  • Dementia experts advise patients, caregivers and staff members.
  • An internal geriatric liaison nurse provides essential information to patients who are admitted to the hospital in A&E.
  • When there are construction projects at our hospital, it is important to consider aspects that are important for senior care recipients, such as appropriate furnishings and limited environmental stimuli.
  • Caregivers may participate in the care. We provide the document 'My habits' so we can get to know the patient better.
  • Our hospital works with the Dementia Expertise Centre on Bachelor candidate examinations for Artevelde University of Applied Sciences and Ghent University of Applied Sciences and Arts for those students who are researching how a senior patient and his or her caregiver experience the hospital admission. Students organise focus groups on this topic, which often provide us with quite useful input.
  • For the past year, our hospital has had a work group titled 'Senior-friendly Hospital', in which the Senior Advisory Board of Ghent also is represented. An advisory text has been drafted based on the literature and on peer reviews held with the Senior Advisory Board, Zorgnet-Icuro and six other Flemish hospitals. This document is helping us, as well as other hospitals, to identify action points and improve the treatment we provide for our senior care recipients.