Enhancing geriatric patient care with Medicine Refresher Day

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By Kyla Young

On October 18, 2018, a record number of 180 primary care providers, nurses and allied healthcare professionals who work as part of interdisciplinary geriatric teams across Northeastern Ontario, came together at the 5th annual North East Geriatric Medicine Refresher Day.   This conference is aimed at building clinical capacity in specialized geriatrics across the region.

The event was hosted by the North East Specialized Geriatric Centre in Sudbury and brought together six experts from across the province to share best practices in geriatric medicine with healthcare professionals serving older adults.  Guest speakers included Dr. David Conn, Dr. Cindy Grief, Dr. Katriina Hopper, Dr. Joanne Ho and Dr. Lyne Giroux who covered a wide range of topics including, substance use disorders, grief, advanced care planning, geriatric clinical pharmacology, and dermatology.

A highlight from the day was a moving presentation delivered by Mr. Dale Hall who described his role as an active caregiver to his father-in-law who was diagnosed in 2016 with vascular dementia.  Mr. Hall reflected on their journey navigating the complexities of the healthcare system, which resonated professionally and personally with conference participants.  Dr. Felicia Janulewicz, a Care of the Elderly Physician, says the information shared at the conference will help patients across Northeastern Ontario. “I find it exciting that the education provided, especially the innovative approaches to substance abuse, polypharmacy, and grief, will help those health professionals who attended to better serve their elderly patients. The day concluded with a touching message on the caregiver experience which was a beautiful reminder of why we do this work, and why we continue to gather each year to share in our experience and knowledge.”

The North East Specialized Geriatric Centre is a leader in providing education in geriatric medicine and has hosted the North East Specialized Geriatric Medicine Refresher Day for five consecutive years.  The focus of this year’s conference allowed the speakers to present evidence-based best practices along with new leading industry tools and skills to optimize care for frail, medically complex, older adults.  Attendees were able to network and collaborate with regional partners regarding innovative healthcare delivery.  “This event provides a wonderful opportunity to network with other geriatric medicine providers and experts in the field,” says Dr. Katriina Hopper, Geriatrician at the Sault Area Hospital. “As a geriatrician working in a northern community, it is important to nurture and maintain these professional connections.”

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Following the one-day conference, participants are asked to provide feedback in survey format on elements they enjoyed about the conference, areas of interest, and future opportunities for improvement.  This year’s feedback highlighted an appreciation for the diversified topics and engaging speakers as well as the structure of the day which supported collaborative group discussion through question and answer periods and networking breaks.  Future opportunities for improvement suggested tailored break-out sessions and varying clinical applications for all health care providers in order to emphasize the importance of teamwork and multidisciplinary expertise in geriatrics.  The planning committee reviews all feedback received through the online survey and uses this information to guide the development of future conference programs.

For more information on this year’s speakers and their presentations visit the North East Specialized Geriatric Centre’s website at www.nesgc.ca.  The North East Specialized Geriatric Centre will be hosting next year’s conference on Thursday, October 17th in Sudbury, ON.  Further information pertaining to this event will be updated throughout the year on Twitter @NE_SGC.

Kyla Young is the North East Specialized Geriatric Centre’s Assistant.