Winter 2023 Newsletter
By Robin McAtee, PhD, RN, FACHE, Director, Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative (AGEC), a Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging (DWR IOA)
Happy New Year! Can you all believe it is 2023 and we have been enduring COVID and all that has entailed for almost three years? However, we are all learning to live with it better and getting out and enjoying things again. The AGEC programs are thriving and our community partners are busy once again. It is wonderful to see older adults congregating and enjoying each other’s company again! We are also having full classes where programs based on evidence are being taught and activities being enjoyed. In addition, as we begin this new year, our academic partners are working with health professions students to ensure many complete their degrees this spring. We can all look forward to having more healthcare professionals begin their careers knowing more about how to appropriately care for older adults.
This quarter, I want to talk to you a little more about what we started discussing last quarter, the 4M’s of Age-Friendly Care. I introduced that concept last quarter and this time I want to delve into one of those 4M’s a little more and subsequently discuss one more in-depth in each quarter this year. The first one we will review here is “What Matters”. This is what all the other “M’s” focus around. As I mentioned in the last Directors Desk, this is where the conversation with the patient, family, and caregiver(s) begins. The healthcare team should discuss the older adult’s health outcome goals and care preferences, including end-of-life care, across all settings. Their goals and preferences then direct the overall plan of care. Ideally, this should be asked at almost every visit, just to ensure priorities haven’t changed. What matters most to someone certainly changes with time, age, and of course life events. This month it might be caring for a disabled spouse, but if that spouse passes away, then what matters also changes, so as healthcare professionals, we need ask.
What matters should be inclusive, individualized, holistic, person-centered, patient-centered, respectful, prognosis-centered, collaborative, responsive, integrative, and of course, achievable. It also helps clinicians to build trust, treat older adults with humility and respect, maintain a patient-centered approach, create effective and actionable healthcare conversations, and frequently decreases unwanted care and treatments. Knowing what matters drives patient care goals. So just ask: what matters, what is most important to you in this stage of your life, and how can I, as a healthcare professional, help you achieve your goals?
This was just a quick overview of “What Matters”, but I hope helps to inform and remind us all of why we are healthcare professionals and why we should always ask and listen to our patients first. If you want to learn more, additional information can be found here.
If you would like more information or training regarding the 4M’s of Age-Friendly Care, please contact the AGEC.