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Geriatric Assessors Helping Older Adults to Get the Support They Need

Home visits key to identifying potential health and safety concerns for people living at home

RENFREW COUNTY, February 5, 2014 – For older adults, a change in one's physical, mental or functional abilities can be cause for concern. When such a change occurs, the person's physician, family member or CCAC care coordinator may request an assessment by a Geriatric Assessor.

Geriatric Assessors are experts in the care of older adults, typically those over 65 years old. During a home visit, they conduct a multidimensional assessment of the person's physical state, eating habits, environment, abilities and medications. They also complete an in-depth cognitive analysis and look for any signs of abuse or stress.

By seeing patients in their natural environment, Geriatric Assessors have the time to ask important questions and see first-hand some of the concerns that patients may have—details that patients may not disclose when visiting their physician.

Brenda O'Brien is part of the Champlain CCAC's Geriatric Team in Renfrew County: "The best part of my job is definitely the home visit. It's a tremendous feeling to sort through the challenges that are faced by patients with dementia, for example, and find ways for them and their families to better cope."

Family members are often present during the home visit. Considering the personal nature of the questions, great consideration and care are taken to ensure that patients feel comfortable enough to share specific details.

"Brenda has been very helpful. She arranged a visit from a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist that resulted in a number of safety enhancements to our home. She also arranged for my husband to attend an Adult Day Program in our area and he really enjoyed it! Things are working out well," said Teresa Pilgrim, whose husband is a Champlain CCAC client in Renfrew County.

Once the geriatric assessment is completed, family members, care coordinators and physicians are contacted for additional information to complete a detailed report. These findings will help care providers to offer additional support or resources to patients. For example, patients may qualify for a referral to the Geriatric Clinic or Geriatric Mobile Day Hospital in Renfrew County, where they can work on some of the issues uncovered in their assessment. This can include mobility and reconditioning, strategies to improve functional abilities, medication management and linking to community support services.

About the Champlain CCAC

The Champlain Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) is one of the largest health service providers in eastern Ontario, connecting people to care in a region covering over 18,000 sq. km. Every year, the Champlain CCAC supports clients in a variety of settings through injury, illness and the complications of age or disability by facilitating their access to information, community-based services and other resources. Our client care coordination teams help develop care plans for people of all ages, focused on maintaining independence and dignity at home and in their community.