New Randomized Clinical Trial Demonstrates Effectiveness of Adapted HELP

A new randomized controlled trial in JAMA Internal Medicine has demonstrated the effectiveness of the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), this time in an adapted, tailored format. The HELP Program reduces delirium and functional decline in hospitalized older adults through daily interventions, many of which are performed by volunteers.

This study enrolled 281 surgical patients at a hospital in China and compared a group receiving a tailored version of the HELP program (t-HELP) to a group receiving usual care with no HELP program. T-HELP included non-pharmacological interventions completed by family members (instead of volunteers) trained by nursing staff. Results demonstrated the effectiveness of this t-HELP format, as occurrence of delirium was only 2.6% in the t-HELP group while 19.4% in the usual care group. And even further, patients who received t-HELP program had greater recovery (both cognitive and functional) one month after surgery compared to the usual care group.

This is a very important study, as in China, family members are frequently involved in care of older persons but hospitals often do not utilize volunteers. This study demonstrates that HELP can be adapted to fit a variety of institutional formats. Read more about the study here.

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