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Eat Walk Engage fast tracks older patient recovery

13 July 2020

Supporting older patients like Elaine Hanley (pictured) to remain active and engaged during their hospital stay is a challenge QEII is addressing with the introduction of the Eat Walk Engage program.

“Eat Walk Engage takes a multi-disciplinary approach to improving care for older people in hospital, preventing delirium and promoting recovery,” Dietitian Breony Kurtz says. “It’s part of QEII’s ongoing efforts to improve patient care and outcomes.”

Delirium (an acute confused state), combined with functional decline (an increased need for practical assistance) affects 25-40 per cent of inpatients aged 65 and older, leading to longer hospital stays and admission to aged care facilities, and may heighten future dementia risk.

 “As part of Eat Walk Engage, ward 4B staff are supporting our older patients to mobilise early and regularly, to eat and drink adequately, and to keep their minds’ active through meaningful cognitive activities,” Ms Kurtz said. “Research demonstrates these non-pharmacological strategies are essential to preventing delirium and improving recovery.”

It has been challenging to support patients to engage with some of their interests at this time when visits from friends and family have been be restricted. So Eat Walk Engage and Occupational Therapy Assistants have been working together to provide older patients with single-use activity packs, using resources donated by Staedtler Australia, Woolworths Gardens City and the Sic Temple Brisbane. Packs include colouring in, crossword activities, sudoku, colouring pencils and sharpeners.

Occupational Therapy student, Ellie Thiess (pictured), has led an evaluation of these activity packs, commenting feedback from patients had been very positive. “Patients have given us a 9.7/10 rating on average and told us the activities we provide are great and similar to what they would do at home,” she said.

The Eat Walk Engage programme has been implemented on medical and surgical wards at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH), The Prince Charles Hospital, and Caboolture and Nambour Hospitals where evaluation showed a 42 per cent reduction in delirium and a 46 per cent increase in discharge home. Financial evaluation of the initial four wards implemented at RBWH indicated a 4:1 return on investment, demonstrating the value Eat Walk Engage is anticipated to bring to QEII.

For further information about the programme visit the Clinical Excellence Queensland website.

Last updated 20 July 2020
Last reviewed 13 July 2020

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