Newswise — Since 2017, Rush Center for Excellence in Aging (CEA) has been committed to improving the health and well-being of older adults by integrating age-friendly initiatives Systemwide.

These efforts have led to Rush University Medical Center’s designation as an Age-Friendly Health System (AFHS). The first in Illinois to receive this achievement.

Hearing about the CEA’s success in becoming an AFHS, the American Hospital Association conducted a site visit to learn more about the work being done.

“Rush is very excited to be a leader in the Age-Friendly Health System movement, and honored to have the American Hospital Association visit us to share in that work,” Erin Emery-Tiburcio, PhD, ABPP, Co-Director of the Rush Center for Excellence in Aging, said.

After a day-long site visit that included meeting with senior leadership, community partners, and older adults, the AHA developed a case study that took a deep dive into what the CEA is, its core foundations and its impact in the Chicago community, across the Rush system as a whole, and nationwide.

An Age-Friendly Health System

An AFHS focuses on four evidence-based elements of high-quality care, known as the 4Ms. When implemented together, the 4Ms represent a broad shift by health systems to focus on the needs of older adults.

  • What matters
  • Mentation (or Mind)
  • Mobility
  • Medication

Rush has implemented a variety of initiatives that make it an AFHS.

During inpatient rounds, staff ask patients “what matters most to you?,” recording the answer on a whiteboard and integrating the response into the patient’s care and stay at the hospital.  

Rush University students learn about the 4Ms as faculty begin to infuse the concepts into their curriculum. First year students in the interprofessional teams course are introduced to the 4Ms and work with a health mentor to understand “what matters” to them. Using Schaalman Senior Voices (SSV), a collection of films that aim to strengthen the wellbeing of older adults and their communities, students understand how to talk about “what matters” as people age.

Outside of the hospital, the CEA partners with community-based organizations and groups to advance the 4Ms in older communities throughout Chicago. These include partnerships with the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst, other Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Programs and faith-based organizations, too.

Impact on a hospital system

The CEA has been able to integrate new ideas and bring positive care to older adults throughout the Rush system.

Tracking statistics through a dashboard at Rush University Medical Center, the CEA could see that from 2018-2019, the length of stay for older adult patients age 65 and older decreased. Patient satisfaction scores on the other hand, began to rise, with scores above of the national average of 79.5 percent.

And as Rush continues to see positive impact, the CEA has emerged as a leader in AFHS, helping other health systems implement the initiative as well. Partnering with the IHI, the CEA has developed three videos for systems to learn about the 4Ms and the workflow for it in ambulatory and inpatient care settings.

“Through our Age-Friendly Health System efforts, we have helped Rush achieve greater equity in the care of older adults and their families” said Robyn Golden, LCSW, Co-Director of the Center for Excellence in Aging.

As the CEA continues to implement new and innovate ways to create an excellent patient experience for older adults, it is making sure that these initiatives are comprehensive and cohesive throughout the entire System. The hard work and dedication of the CEA has created an age-friendly system across the board at Rush and in the community.