Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nurses and Caring for Our Seniors

I just got back from a wonderful conference that was held in New Orleans, LA - the NICHE 2012 conference, which focused on nursing and nursing research in geriatric care. It was gratifying to see so many nurses, including those who haven't been that long out of nursing school, so dedicated to improving the quality of care given to seniors in both the hospital and home care environment.

There were 92 posters submitted by nurses from all over the United States. Many were on fall prevention and many were about dementia and other similar issues. We got to hear about a wonderful new senior care unit that was designed with the patient and staff in mind, limiting the chances of falls and mistakes. We also learned about issues with delirium, as opposed to dementia, and how much work still needs to be done in this field.

Towards the end of the second day, we listened to nurses who worked through Hurricane Katrina and what they and the administration learned about how to prepare and how to function through a disaster and the final endnote speaker took us through the history of geriatric nursing. I only touched on a few of the presentations and it was all very interesting.

Senior care in North America is still way behind what it should be. The resources are lacking and, for some reason, the will to get more resources is also lacking much of the time. The problem is as more and more people in North America get older and live longer, we will have so many more elderly patients in the hospital and in the home health environment that we can no longer ignore their special needs.

I'm going to be writing up some of the things I learned over the past couple of days. And, although I enjoyed the conference and learned so much, I do wish that we weren't so far behind, that we weren't having to come up with so many solutions for problems that have been around for so long. It's time we put senior care to the front of the line rather than thinking of it as an afterthought, don't you think?