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Every emergency department is filled with chaos and noise majority of the time and sometimes patients’ needs aren’t understood the first time around.

With one third of patients coming through Nambour ED over the age of 65, research and local data indicates that geriatric patients who present to emergency have a higher representation rate after discharge and longer stays in hospital.

Thanks to Wishlist’s annual research funding, Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) Clinical Nurse Andrea Taylor received a grant to help develop a screening tool to better understand the needs of geriatric patients more efficiently.

Ms Taylor found that a lot of geriatric patients end up with a prolonged stay in hospital or present back to the hospital due to their conditions not being understood the first time around. This screening tool will take no more than five minutes and is a series of questions found through research to better help staff understand the geriatric patient needs.

As a passionate geriatric nurse, Ms Taylor wanted to put her feelers out to see what areas needed more work and how she could help.

“My job as a nurse is to ask the questions to help understand a patients needs but it’s also to be asking the after-care questions.” Ms Taylor said.

“Piggy backing onto research that’s already been done in Brisbane, we are hoping to validate a phone app to ask a series of questions to rank patients on a number system 1-6. The higher the number, the more attention that patient needs.”

Ms Taylor said there’s a big growth outside Australia that’s going ahead in leaps and bounds with the aging population in America and the United Kingdom where geriatric emergency departments are in existence.

“Emergency rooms here aren’t designed for older people as they can be quite confronting and traumatizing. Having a geriatric ER complete with lighter colours and paintings on the wall can make the geriatric patient feel more at home.”

Ms Taylor said the screening tool will take no more than five minutes and will hopefully address the concerns that are plaguing geriatric families the most.

“I’m the luckiest person in the department to have such a satisfying role and to be learning the journeys of older persons and understanding why they are in the department.” Ms Taylor said.

“I want to target my attention to geriatrics to get them treated with the correct care and without this tool there isn’t a validated way of determining which patients need a higher level of care.”

Ms Taylor is hoping the screening tool will be complete in the next few years and that the new University Hospital at Kawana will have a small emergency department tailored to geriatric patients.

“Hopefully three to four research papers will be published along with a model of care for geriatric within Australia and this will hopefully gather interest from other bodies reducing costs and having better patient outcomes.

As part of Wishlist’s $1million commitment to the needs of the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, annual research grants are available to health staff. This year, $300,000 is available to employees of the SCHHS for local research projects.

For more information contact Wishlist on 5470 6598.