Dr. Amir Ibrahim Abdalla, Consultant Geriatrician and Emergency Geriatrics Clinical Lead at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), says Qatar’s ageing population has meant there is a new emphasis on geriatric medicine, with elder care specialists now working as part of multi-disciplinary teams operating across HMC’s network of facilities.
“The geriatrics team works across a number of HMC facilities and services. Members of our team work in emergency, inpatient, and outpatient facilities and we collaborate with colleagues across the system. As an example, we work closely with our orthopedic colleagues to address the unique care needs of elderly patients who are recovering from fractures,” said Dr. Abdulla.
“Rumailah Hospital also offers a wide range of geriatric services through its specialized long-term care units and its specialized falls prevention, memory, general geriatrics, and rapid assessment clinics,” he added.
Dr. Abdulla explained that while geriatric care is provided across HMC, services are integrated and there is a focus on treating the ‘whole patient’, taking every aspect of their life into account, including culture and tradition. He says many geriatric patients are managing multiple medical problems, including a decline in memory, injuries from falls, and weight loss.
“With approximately 12 percent of the country’s population projected to be over the age of 65 by 2022, demand for specialized geriatric services is expected to continue rising. Individuals over the age of 65 have a range of unique healthcare requirements that include a number of conditions typical of, if not specific to, aging, such as dementia, depression, delirium, incontinence, vertigo, falls, bone fractures, and nutritional deficiencies. Elderly patients may also require longer hospital stays,” says Dr. Abdulla.
Dr. Abdulla says HMC is continuing to add new and innovative services to address the specific care needs of elderly patients and he notes that current services, such as a memory clinic and a falls prevention clinic, have filled an important void. He says geriatric physicians also work across the system within multi-disciplinary teams, providing physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutrition and dietetics services, and other allied healthcare services.
“We recently introduced a new service at Al Wakra Hospital that provides specialized counseling for our elderly patients via a weekly outpatient clinic. This service is also provided at Enaya Specialized Care Centers 1 and 2 in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City and involves providing patients with a comprehensive health assessment as well as any necessary follow-up care, including rehabilitation,” said Dr. Abdulla.
Dr. Abdulla says that while most patients with complex medical conditions are admitted to Rumailah Hospital’s long-term care wards, adult ventilator units, or the Enaya Specialized Care Centers, he notes that a large number of elderly patients are cared for by HMC’s Home Health Care Service.
“Our top priority in the management of elderly patients is placing the patient and his or her family at the center of the decision-making process. We are committed to providing patients with the information they need to be active participants in their care and treatment plans. All efforts are made to ensure the patient maintains maximum independence and can remain in the community,” added Dr. Abdulla.
The groundbreaking Enaya Specialized Care Centers were opened in 2015 as part of HMC’s efforts to meet the needs of the country’s growing elderly population. The facilities are connected via a link bridge, allowing for efficiencies in staffing, equipment, and space. They provide around-the-clock monitoring and treatment for patients with complex care needs.