How HELP Is Serving Older Patients Amidst the Pandemic
Oct 30, 2020 1:00 PM
In March of 2020, the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) had to make quick daily operations changes to continue serving older patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Geriatrics Division, HELP is an evidence-based delirium prevention program that serves hospitalized patients age 70 and older. When visitor policies changed, face-to-face HELP volunteer visits were suspended, and socially isolated older patients were at higher risk of developing delirium.
In April, thanks to generous donations, HELP purchased a fleet of iPads and gooseneck stands that allowed the program to move to a virtual platform. HELP’s specially trained volunteers now conduct virtual visits five days a week on ten units in our hospital and offer therapeutic activities, orienting communication, and engaging conversation to help prevent delirium.
In addition to connecting with volunteers, patients use the iPads for leisure and to connect with family.
- Patients from out of state were delighted to have the opportunity to connect with family members during the no-visitor policy.
- A patient in MICU watched a family member’s funeral using Zoom on a HELP iPad.
- Volunteers used iPads to show COVID-19 patients the views outside of our windows during the beautiful summer months.
- On Fridays, a HELP volunteer from the Utah Symphony plays virtual cello concerts for patients.
- A patient who experienced social isolation at an assisted living facility due to COVID-19 restrictions spent more than 20 hours speaking with volunteers over several days while hospitalized.
Heartwarming patient stories occur daily. HELP is doing what it can to support our most vulnerable population during this pandemic. It is amazing to experience the impact that HELP iPads have on our hospitalized older adults.