Hospital Elder Life Program

outside view of hospital

At Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital (HGMH), we are committed to providing exceptional care tailored to the unique needs of our elderly patients. As such, we've introduced the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP).

HELP is a patient care program that helps prevent delirium and functional decline in older hospitalized patients. Using a trained team of volunteers, HELP addresses a wide range of geriatric issues during a patient's hospitalization by providing support to keep the patient comfortable and conducting activities to keep them mentally and physically active. This program allows patients to be discharged from the hospital as independently as possible and to prevent unplanned readmissions. 

What is Delirium?
Delirium is a sudden change in mental status, or sudden confusion, which develops over hours to days. In general, delirium is a reversible short-term condition, sometimes called "acute brain failure" because of its sudden and dramatic onset. Delirium is an especially common and serious problem in hospitalized older patients. 
About HELP

Being in the hospital upsets normal routines just at the time the patient is coping with illness. This disruption can cause hospitalized older adult patients to develop delirium and other complications. These complications can cause patients to lose their general mental and physical ability to function. 


That's where HELP comes in! HELP promotes activities for the mind and body of older patients during their hospital stay. These activities will help improve the patient's outcomes by preventing functional decline and enhancing their overall recovery process during their hospital stay. 


This can be achieved through a series of exercises and activities that are customized to meet the special needs of seniors. The program relies on trained volunteers to provide different types of interventions to stimulate mental, physical and social well-being.


These interventions include:

  • Daily visiting: patients are visited three times per week to keep them alert and oriented.
  • Meal assistance: patients are provided varying levels of assistance at mealtime to encourage eating.
  • Therapeutic activities: these activities help keep patients' minds and bodies engaged. These may include playing cards, reading books or magazines, doing puzzles such as a word search or Sudoku, or simply just having a conversation with the patient to keep their mind active. 
What Will HELP Look Like at HGMH?

All patients 70 years of age and older, within 72 hours of admission, will be screened by the Elder Life Nurse Specialist for HELP eligibility. Should the patient meet the criteria, they will be asked to consent to participate. 


Patients must be at risk for cognitive and functional decline (i.e., baseline cognitive impairment, use of a mobility device, visual impairment, hearing impairment, dehydrated). They must be able to communicate verbally or in writing. 

Becoming a HELP Volunteer

HELP volunteers make all the difference to a senior's life. We are always looking for volunteers who are passionate about helping others and are seeking a fulfilling experience. 


If you are interested in becoming a HELP volunteer, please contact the Auxiliary:


Mario Riggio
613-525-2222 extension 4256

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of older adults during their hospitalization journey. 
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© 2018 Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital, 20260 County Road 43 Alexandria, Ontario K0C 1A0

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