Doctor calls for more space at B.C. geriatric wards

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



As the elderly population in B.C. grows, a local residential care hospital is raising concerns about funding and space to house seniors suffering from delirium.

Dr. Martin Illing, a psychiatrist of 10 years at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver, said on Sunday octogenarians are currently B.C.’s fastest-growing population and space is running out for the seniors at geriatric psychiatry wards.

“Ninety-five-percent of the patients are not on geriatric units, but delirium is throughout the entire system,” Illing said.

“A surgical or medical ward is acute, hectic and these patients have difficulty in those wards. You want them to get in a dedicated ward with specialized caretakers.”

Delirium, he said, is a sudden onset of disorientation experienced usually following an infection or through side effects of medication. It’s usually up to family members to identify delirium before it can be clinically diagnosed.

“The patients lose their ability to function properly, nutrition becomes a problem and they may do something unsafe they normally wouldn’t do,” he said.

The Tapestry Foundation, which fundraises for several hospitals under Providence Health Care, is now trying to collect $40,000 to upgrade Mount Saint Joseph’s geriatric ward with a new bladder scanner and specialized, adjustable furniture.

“The environment people are in makes a difference to how calm and how relaxed they might be,” said Tapestry CEO Ann Adams.



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