UAB expands elder care program to vascular surgery unit

A UAB nurse is working to expand the Hospital Elder Life Program as the focus of her fellowship with the Gerontological Nursing Leadership Academy. 

Sigma Theta TauFrom left: Kellie Flood, M.D., Emily Simmons and Deborah CleeterThe University of Alabama at Birmingham is expanding the Hospital Elder Life Program, or HELP, to units across the hospital to enhance care for elders with extended stays.

Emily Simmons, advanced nursing coordinator for UAB’s Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders program, will lead a team of professionals to implement HELP in the vascular surgery unit in November.

 “The Hospital Elder Life Program has been shown to decrease the development of delirium in hospitalized older adults across the nation,” Simmons said. “I am excited to have my Gerontological Nursing Leadership Academy Fellowship’s Interprofessional Project focus on implementing this program in the surgical patient population at UAB Hospital so that we can further advance the care delivered to our older adults.”

HELP has been successful in aiding patient recovery in the Acute Care for the Elder unit at UAB Highlands. The program utilizes volunteers to provide interventions with hospitalized patients in order to prevent delirium. Under Simmons’ leadership, the advisory team plans to expand HELP to one additional unit over the next year.

Implementing HELP across UAB is supported through Simmons’ acceptance into the 2016-2017 Gerontological Nursing Leadership Academy. The GNLA fellowship program, presented by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International and Hill Rom, Inc., pairs leadership mentors and fellows in a blended curriculum designed to empower nurses to effectively lead their organizations through challenging times regarding the care for older adults. 

“This collaborative effort between UAB Hospital, the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care and the Gerontological Nursing Leadership Academy will result in an improved experience for UAB patients and staff, and also for senior adults across the nation as we publish our processes and results,” said Kellie Flood, M.D., leadership mentor and assistant chief medical officer for Care Transitions and Geriatric Quality Officer at UAB Hospital.

The prestigious and highly selective program provides a multitude of methodologies for developing leadership knowledge and competence, with a focus on individual leadership, advanced nursing practice through team leadership, and organizational scope of influence.