A Program Evaluation of the Hospital Elder Life Program in a Community Teaching Hospital

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

J Am Geriatr Soc


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES The growing population of older adults and the numerous negative outcomes associated with delirium challenges health systems to provide specialized older adult care. One intervention that has been shown to have positive effects on older adults is the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) which utilizes volunteers to help prevent delirium and immobility. This project sought to answer the following questions: What was the effect of HELP volunteers on clinical outcomes (rate of patient falls, use of patient sitters and length of stay) and what was the associated financial impact? METHODS This project was a retrospective program outcomes evaluation. Charts of patients that were 70 years and older admitted to the Neurology/Stroke Unit, at community-based teaching hospital in Metro-Detroit Michigan between February 2017 and May 2018 were reviewed. The time frame includes 8 months pre-implementation of HELP volunteers and 8 months post-implementation. Descriptive statistics was used to describe fall rates. The Wilcoxon rank test was used to analyze length of stay and patient sitter hours. A study site statistician conducted the analysis of data using Statistical Analysis System. The financial services department assisted in obtaining information regarding the financial impact of falls, patient sitter hours, and length of stay. RESULTS A total of 1670 patients were included in the review. Falls decreased from 15 during the pre-implementation period to 9 falls post implementation. Average length of stay decreased from 4.1 days to 3.9 days (p= 0.027). Total patient sitter hours decreased from 4,210.10 hours to 3,742.70 hours, for a difference of 475.40 hours (p= 0.80). The estimated cost of a fall, with or without injury, while hospitalized was unable to be obtained from the financial department. In the post-implementation study period, HELP volunteers on one nursing unit showed minimum cost savings of $48,053.05 through the reduction of length of stay and use of patient sitters. CONCLUSION The results of this project are consistent with literature, concluding that volunteer visits from the HELP positively impacts patient outcomes and reduces financial costs and substantiates the need to sustain and expand the current program.



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