The Harford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University College of Nursing, in collaboration with the American Journal of Nursing, has been awarded a $2,622,560 grant from The John A Hartford Foundation to produce and distribute demonstration videos and a companion series of journal articles for teaching nurses the use of geriatric health assessment tools. Terra Nova Films will partner with AJN to produce the videos.
“Health assessment of older adults is important because illness in older people often looks different than in younger ones,” said Mathy Mezey, EdD, RN, FAAN, principal investigator, and director of The Harford Institute for Geriatric Nursing. “Yet few faculty or care providers outside of the geriatric specialty are prepared to conduct or teach assessments specific to older adults, despite the prevalence of this population.”
The need for teaching assessments of older adults is even more urgent in associate degree programs since, to date, other geriatric assessment initiatives have focused primarily on higher degree programs. Given that 63% of those entering the nursing workforce are graduates of associate degree nursing programs, the need for this preparation is paramount.
The project will translate and disseminate the highly accessible Try This tool box of geriatric assessment tools, created by The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, into 30 web-based, no-cost demonstration videos and articles for faculty, students and graduates. The tool box provides knowledge of best practices in the care of older adults in a way that is easy to understand and implement by all direct-care nurses. Using actual nurses, patients and their families, the new video materials will demonstrate how geriatric assessments should be conducted, interpreted and communicated to plan the care for an older adult. Accompanying these videos will be a complementary series of continuing-education articles published in the AJN that will provide case studies and supporting information about the use of each assessment tool and will be available on line to read or download.
The series will also target faculty and students in other nursing programs as well as hospital care providers, home health agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and office settings with a variety of resources for bridging the gap that exists between research and current practices.
“The Try This series addresses a wide range of symptoms and syndromes that require particular attention in older adults,” said Dr. Mezey. “For example, while a younger adult with a urinary tract infection may have symptoms such as frequent urination and pain, the changes that occur with aging often mask these symptoms. In an older adult, the first sign of a urinary tract infection might be confusion or a fall. If the nurse does not have the knowledge and skills to evaluate older adults, the infection can go untreated and may even result in death.”
Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-principal investigator for the project and editor-in-chief of AJN, added, “While nurses are taught to generally assess older adults and adjust care accordingly, significant improvements in the quality of life and appropriateness of care can be made when nurses are taught how to assess older adults using standardized evidence-based geriatric assessment procedures. These improvements in care can result in lowering healthcare costs associated with complications, admissions, or re-admissions to hospitals, prolonged length of stay or admission to nursing homes due to missed diagnoses or improper treatment. AJN is pleased to partner with NYU on this important project.”
According to the Alliance for Aging Research, older adults constitute almost half of all days of care in hospitals; additionally, 80% of people receiving home care and 90% of skilled nursing facility residents are 65 years of age or older. Older adults are the largest consumers of health services and nurses care for older adults more than any other patient group.