Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre’s new geriatric unit offers “restorative focus” for vulnerable older patients

CALHN’s newly opened Geriatric Evaluation Management Unit (GEMU) has welcomed its first patients.

The unit offers frail and elderly patients an opportunity to work closely with allied health practitioners in a less-clinical setting, to enhance their wellbeing and reduce the potential for readmission to hospital.

Based at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre (HRC), GEMU will be supported by a multidisciplinary team including a geriatrician, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, social workers, neuropsychologist, dietician, diversional therapist and an exercise physiologist.

GEMU’s Nursing Unit Manager Mark Dallman said the refurbished ward offers a “restorative care approach” enhanced by its ground level location, which is surrounded by easily accessible outside spaces and incorporated common areas to encourage social activity.

“The patients we will be caring for are vulnerable and highly susceptible to readmission, so they require a slower care stream with allied health input,” Mark said.

“We will be encouraging patients to get dressed into their own clothes, sit out of bed and hopefully venture outside, engage in social interactions and use the common spaces.

“These activities encourage normality and are an important part of working towards getting home.”

GEMU provided a contrast to the acute setting of the RAH and TQEH, he said.

“The environment is less clinical, it is located on the group floor and surrounded by garden spaces.”

The unit will also allow RAH and TQEH EDs to provide more timely care for new patients, ensure ambulances are available for the community and support preparations for COVID-related activity.

GEMU’s first patient, Georgia Tsaconas, arrived at the new unit after spending several days at the RAH after fracturing her leg from a fall at home.

“I’ve come because they are going to help me with exercises, to help me prepare to go home,” the 85-year-old said.

“I’m happy to be here, there’s lots of open space, I can see outside and am surrounded by trees, its beautiful.”

Georgia’s son, Theo, was grateful his mother would receive additional care and support from allied health practitioners before returning home.

“I’m pleased she is still receiving around the clock care before going home to continue her rehabilitation,” Theo said.

CALHN Consumer representative, Michael Curry, praised the GEMU model.

“It’s good to see all the resources are provided here in the one place,” Michael said.

“And importantly, for each patient, they will be among people with the same task ahead of them which will be mentally beneficial for them.”