• accident and emergency;
  • behavioural change;
  • capacity building;
  • gerontological nursing;
  • nursing care;
  • older people

flynn d.s., jennings j., moghabghab r., nancekivell t., tsang c., cleland m. & shipman-vokner k. (2010) Raising the bar of care for older people in Ontario emergency departments. International Journal of Older People Nursing 5, 219–226 doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2010.00209.x

Aim.  To describe the role of geriatric emergency management nurses as a catalyst for culture change in emergency department processes with the goal to improve care and outcomes of older people.

Background.  The changing context and literature has called for a culture change within emergency department care to integrate principles of older people care into care delivery. There is a paucity of reports describing how geriatric emergency care models bring about a broader change in culture within the entire emergency department.

Methods.  The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care in Canada established a programme to place geriatric emergency management nurses into emergency departments with the goal to improve delivery of care through development of unique, site-appropriate solutions.

Results.  Geriatric emergency management nurses incorporate capacity building into their role to develop and strengthen the skills, instincts, abilities, process and resources of the emergency department. Care processes focus on areas of staffing, mobilization, comfort, medication, hygiene, nutrition/hydration, cognition, environment, equipment and stimulation. Multi-modal educational strategies and advocacy promote appropriate person-centred care. Improved communication among care providers at key patient transition points remains a priority system-level improvement.

Conclusion.  Geriatric emergency management nurses work collaboratively with the emergency department team to facilitate change in the way that emergency department care is provided to the older person experiencing health emergencies.

Implications for practice.  Known strategies that have been effective in improving outcomes for older people within the hospital and residential care setting can be generalized into emergency department care. Further research into the effectiveness of these strategies in this environment is recommended.