World Elderly day: Medical expert calls for attitudinal change among care givers

World Elderly day: Medical expert calls for attitudinal change among care givers

Friday, October 2, 2020 4:15 pm


Photo: (L-R) Prof. Akoria, Prof Audu, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, Prof. Obaseki and another guest cutting the anniversary cake

By Jethro Ibileke
A geriatric expert in the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Prof. Obehi Akoria, has called for a drastic change in attitude by health care givers in hospitals across the country, especially when dealing with older patients.
She spoke at an event organised by Hospital to mark this year’s UN international day of older persons and elder-friendly initiative, with the theme: “Caring for the elderly, lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
She disclosed that in 2020 alone, 55.6 percent of all admissions into the intensive care unit of this hospital have been older persons, and that does not include patients with covid-19.
Akoria bemoaned attitudes of care givers who overlook the rights of their patients, reminding them that patients under their care have rights to knowledge of their diagnosis and treatment procedure plans.
“We prioritize patient and family participation in care, which is a huge gap that we have found across the entire health care system in this country.
“I feel sad, I feel embarrassed when my patients tell me: ‘I asked my doctor what is wrong with me, I asked my doctor, why are you giving me this medicine, and my doctor said, are you the one to teach me my work?
“Every patient has a right, every significant others has a right to know what is the issue and how we plan to address the issue,” she stated.
Akoria also charged the management of hospitals across the country and their staff to promote elder-friendly policies, irrespective of their departments.
She said: “What we are saying is: a ward is not enough, a centre is not enough, we need a change across the Hospital, across departments, across clinical and non-clinical units, a change that recognizes that an older person is unique in many ways.
“We need elder-friendly hospitals that will understand that we need to improve the social behavioral climate, that support policies and procedures that will allow this major changes. A simple remodeling, a simple change in the way we do things will make make a difference.
“We need changes in our health-care system and processes. What we are asking is we need to do things differently, we need to make a commitment to improve the way we deal with our patients.”
In his welcome speech, the CMD of UBTH, Prof. Darlington Obaseki, said the management of the Hospital took the bold step to pioneer geriatric treatment because the greatest consumers of hospital services are older persons, hence, they decided to make life easier and meaningful to them even when seeking for medical attention.
“In March this year, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, came here to launch a unique project that UBTH is driving nation-wide. We call it the Elder-Friendly Hospital Initiatives.
“The reason why we started that project was basically because, we looked at our data of hospital utilisation, the greatest consumers of hospital services are older persons.
“In our medical emergency for example in 2019, 44 percent of people we attended to were people of 60 years and above.
“When we looked at that data, suddenly realised that despite being the largest consumers of hospital services, most hospitals, if not all hospitals in Nigeria, were not factoring them in deliberately in the care process,” he said.
Also speaking, the team lead of the Hospital’s Rapid Response for Covid-19, Dr. Benson Okwara, while explaining how the Hospital took care of the elderly who were affected with the Coronavirus disease, said their rates of survival from the disease was very minimal due to their low immunity.
“In UBTH, we had 405 confirmed cases of COVID19 from the 31March to the 30 of September. Of this numbers, 143, were persons of sixty years and above who were infected. Unfortunately, we also lost a good number of them because they were the vulnerable group.
“Worldwide, the mortality really for persons sixty years and above is seventy percent and in Nigeria, UBTH, we were getting sixty percent which also matches what we get,” Dr. Okwara said.
Earlier in his speech, the chairman of the event, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, lauded UBTH for pioneering geriatric treatment in the country.
“A lot of people are not even desirable that they keep elderly relatives at home because it affect their lives, it affects their careers, it affects their movement.
“So, when there is a hospital, a geriatric-friendly hospital, which UBTH is now a shinning example, you can have the comfort, the confidence that, that old father, that old mother, that old aunt, will get the total type of care that an old person needs,” Oyegun said.
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