Clinician perspectives about caring for older patients in the Emergency Department

Judy Lowthian, Alyse Jade Lennox, Pieter De Villiers Smit, Peter Cameron

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Background: Older patients use proportionally more Emergency Department (ED) services than other age groups. Multidisciplinary recommendations focusing on their health and social care needs have been published in the UK and USA. Understanding clinician perspectives about the issues encountered whilst providing care to this vulnerable cohort will help determine the relevance of these guidelines in an Australian context and improve the evidence base.

Objectives: To identify any barriers, challenges and facilitators to best practice in the care of older people in the ED.

Method: Nine focus groups (n=54) were conducted with emergency nursing and allied health staff and interviews were conducted with seven emergency physicians. Data were thematically analysed.

Results: Barriers to providing optimal care were related to time, availability of geriatric-friendly equipment, lack of knowledge and inconsistent post-discharge care transitions. Facilitators included team cohesiveness, timely access to allied health for care coordination, and support received from patients’ families. Managing patients with dementia or from non-English-speaking backgrounds were described as challenges, especially within the fast-paced, high-stimulus ED environment. Clinician perspectives are illustrated in the Table.

Conclusion: The ever-increasing number of older patients presents numerous challenges for clinicians that affect the quality of care they strive to deliver, and the ED environment is not optimal for the care of older people. Creating a geriatric-friendly area and reducing the number of transitions during the ED visit, alongside specific staff education would provide an environment that promotes person-centred care, safety, independence and functional well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventInternational Conference for Emergency Medicine -
Duration: 18 Apr 201622 Apr 2016


ConferenceInternational Conference for Emergency Medicine
Abbreviated titleIECM

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