SMH's efforts to implement best practices to enhance care for older adults makes it one of just a handful in Florida to gain the honor

SARASOTA — Older adults have more complex needs than younger generations, and many health care providers struggle to meet those needs — from home to clinics to hospitals and long-term care facilities and back home again.

That’s why the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have led an “Age-Friendly Health System” movement to encourage hospitals to focus on the areas most important to quality health care for older people.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital recently received national recognition for its efforts to implement best practices to enhance care for older adults, joining more than 100 hospitals in the country.

Still, Sarasota Memorial is the only hospital in the region and one of just a handful in Florida to receive the age-friendly status.

"Sarasota Memorial has always been a leader in patient care, and that’s why we want to participate in this important initiative," Sarasota Memorial’s Chief Nursing Officer Connie Andersen said in a statement. "We look forward to both sharing our best practices and learning what’s working for others. It’s an important part of our overarching goal to provide older adults with the best care possible.”

Health systems participating in the initiative are testing and putting into place a set of evidence-based interventions.

According to the John A. Hartford Foundation, this means making sure a patient’s care plan includes a mobility plan earlier in their hospital stay; reviewing medications regularly to minimize harm; addressing conditions that affect thinking such as dementia, depression and delirium; and incorporating what matters to the person, such as their values, goals and preferences.

Sarasota Memorial accomplishes this, in part, through its REACH pilot program, in which teen volunteers visit patients 65 and older on select nursing units to interact and do other activities.

Sarasota Memorial also earned special recognition for being "Committed to Care Excellence,” an honor given to organizations that have demonstrated leadership in the Age-Friendly movement by sharing data and other information that shows the impact of their efforts.