Wellness, Independence & Quality of Life in Aging

What are Specialized Geriatric Services?

Specialized Geriatric Services are hospital and community-based health care services supporting frail seniors and their caregivers. Care is provided by a team of health care professionals with expertise in geriatric medicine and geriatric psychiatry. The team supports the assessment, diagnosis and initial management of issues commonly seen in seniors with frailty. Team members typically include: specialist physicians like Geriatricians, Geriatric Psychiatrists, and Care of the Elderly Physicians; Nurses, including Nurse Practitioners; Social Workers; Occupational Therapists; Physiotherapists; Pharmacists; and, Clinical Dietitians.

Who is a 'Frail' Senior?

While most seniors live healthy and active lives, some become frail, facing complex health problems putting them at risk of losing their independence. This can increase the risk of Emergency Department visits, hospital admissions and/or being placed prematurely in a long-term care home.
These seniors can have multiple chronic medical conditions as well as geriatric syndromes like dementia, depression, falls, weakness and other issues. This complex presentation can complicate accurate assessment, diagnosis and treatment. Often there are social situations at play which impact the senior’s home situation or caregiver supports. This can further complicate care.
A frail senior is sometimes like a house of cards …. pull one card out and things start falling apart!

How Does Specialized Geriatric Services Differ From Seniors’ Care?

Specialized Geriatric Services are just one component of seniors’ care. Care for seniors is provided effectively in many settings across North Simcoe Muskoka such as in doctors' offices, in long-term care homes, through adult day program and through home care.

Specialized Geriatric Services specifically target frail seniors and their caregivers.  These teams provide short-term support to more complex cases, especially those cases needing help from many different types of health care professionals.  This team has expertise in geriatric medicine and geriatric psychiatry and is skilled in the assessment and management of geriatric syndromes.  Together, the team completes a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA).  A CGA examines a senior’s medical situation, functional abilities (i.e. like walking, bathing, memory, etc.), psychosocial situation and environment to develop a plan of care to meet the individual’s specific needs.

How Can Specialized Geriatric Services Help Seniors and the Health System?

The number of Specialized Geriatric Services across the North Simcoe Muskoka region has increased over the last 10 years. The success of Specialized Geriatric Services is dependent on the knowledge and expertise of team members.  It is equally dependent on relationships – relationships within the team, with health care partners as well as with frail seniors and their caregivers.  Specialized Geriatric Services are important because they try to optimize the wellness, independence and quality of life of frail seniors and their caregivers.  

In general, Specialized Geriatric Services are linked with better outcomes for frail seniors and their caregivers as well as the health system, including:
  • Fewer avoidable Emergency Department visits and hospital admissions.
  • An increase in aging at home and a decrease in premature placement in long-term care.
  • Less avoidable decline among high risk seniors with complex medical and psychosocial problems.
  • An increase in functional ability, independence, and quality of life for seniors and their caregivers 
  • Increases in the skills and knowledge of health care providers regarding the care of frail seniors.