Posted: September 22, 2016
Susan Edgar
Susan Edgar

Susan Edgar was drawn to helping elderly patients when she helped care for her grandfather who had fallen ill when she was beginning her nursing career.

That experience helped her realize how much she cared about making care better for seniors. 

Now, as a clinical nurse specialist in geriatrics at Grand River Hospital, Susan has the ability to help make a different not only in the daily lives of her patients but also in the long-term for senior care.

Susan will be one of the panelists at GRH’s community meeting on Thursday September 29th. She has some important points that she hopes to bring to the attention of participants, especially around preventing falls.

What kind of patients do you support at area hospitals?

I’m a clinical nurse specialist in geriatrics, therefore I usually see seniors that are 65 or older. More recently I have been seeing patients in our ACE Unit, which is Acute Care of the Elderly.

What drew you to that kind of care?

When I was a young nurse, I helped care for my grandfather who had a chronic disease. I think that made me quite passionate about making care for better for seniors. I subsequently worked in several different clinical areas and each area had opportunities for improved senior care.

What are some of the health challenges that today’s senior’s face that they may not have in the past?

I think it would be the same as with all patients – information overload from multiple sources (media, internet, family, friends, medical professionals, etc.). It is hard making decisions with an overload of information.

What about caregivers? What do they face now that they may not have before?

I think the business of everyone’s life. We see caregivers torn between work, caring for children and caring for elderly parents. Even 10 years ago, we did not see patients’ children working as much or as long as we do now. For example, we might have an 89-year-old patient with a caregiver child who is 69 and still working.

How is the health system adapting as we see greater numbers of seniors needing care?    

I think the health system is adapting by implementing more senior-friendly strategies in hospitals, within our local health integration network and the province. Dr Sinha is the provincial lead for Ontario’s Seniors Strategy. He wrote a report called “Living Longer, Living Well.” He interviewed many seniors across the province and in his report made recommendations how we can improve the system for seniors in Ontario.

What has the hospital done for elder care that has made you proud to work at GRH?

I’m so proud to work at GRH! They have supported elder care by:

  • Implementing all the RNAO clinical practice guidelines that apply to seniors;
  • Opening the ACE (Acute Care of the Elderly) unit;
  • Supporting the Hospital Elder Life program;
  • Implementing the GEM nurses in ER as well implementing AUA screener in ER; GRH also has robust geriatric programs at Freeport such as restorative care, GAU/NBU, seniors’ mental health and the memory clinic; there is also the geriatric outpatient clinic at Freeport. 

At the community meeting, what’s the main message you want to tell people taking part?

Mainly I want to help people understand how to stay healthy, and the importance of exercise and fall prevention. There are some very simple things you can do as well as more complex things that you need to have a discussion with your primary care provider about.

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