About the Program

Program Overview

The Hospital Elder Life Program has recently been folded into the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) CoCare portfolio. Please visit https://help.agscocare.org/ for full program details. 

The AGS CoCare: HELP™ program, formerly known as The Hospital Elder Life Program, originally created by Dr. Sharon Inouye is a well studied, effective and innovative model of hospital care designed to prevent both delirium and functional decline1-5. By means of a small interdisciplinary staff and targeted intervention protocols, the AGS CoCare: HELP™ program has been demonstrated to improve patient outcomes and lower costs - the ideal combination. The program is intended to integrate the principles of geriatrics into standard nursing and medical care on any hospital unit, and to bring geriatric expertise to bear on patient care decisions being made on not only patients enrolled in the program, but ultimately to patients throughout the institution. 

The program provides targeted interventions implemented by a skilled interdisciplinary team (including a geriatric nurse specialist, specially trained Elder Life Specialists, and trained volunteers) that address a broad scope of geriatric issues known to contribute to cognitive and functional decline during hospitalization. These include cognitive orientation and stimulation activities, therapeutic activities, sleep enhancement strategies, exercise and mobilization, hearing and vision aids, feeding assistance and preventing dehydration, pastoral care, family support and education, and individualized discharge planning. 

Successful implementation of these interventions can counteract the detrimental effects of hospitalization. The effectiveness of the program for delirium prevention has been well established through a controlled clinical trial in 852 patients (Inouye, et al., 1999). Additional benefits of the program include:

  • Prevention of functional decline (Inouye, et al., 1993)
  • Improvement in overall quality of hospital care for older patients, including improvement in hospital outcomes and satisfaction with care
  • Provision of cost-effective care, with reduced overall hospital costs on average
  • Recognition of the hospital as a Center of Excellence in provision of geriatric care
  • Increased hospital volunteer base
  • Enhanced public relations and community outreach
  • Educational site for acute geriatric care

Program Goals

While the core interventions focus on prevention of delirium, the program was conceptualized as a comprehensive program of care for hospitalized older patients. It was designed to address a broad scope of geriatric issues and iatrogenic complications contributing to cognitive and functional decline during hospitalization. The specific program goals are:

  1. To maintain physical and cognitive functioning throughout hospitalization
  2. To maximize independence at discharge
  3. To assist with the transition from hospital to home
  4. To prevent unplanned readmission

1Inouye SK et al. New England Journal of Medicine 1999;340:669-676: 2. Inouye SK et al. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2000; 48: 1697-1706; 5. Rizzo JA et al. Medical Care 2001;39:740-752; 3. Rubin FH et al. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2006; 54: 969-74; 4. Leslie DL et al. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2005; 53:405-9;5. Rubin FH et al. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2011; 54: 969-974

If you are interested in joining this program, please visit https://help.agscocare.org or email dsandos@americangeriatrics.org.

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