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Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP)

The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) is an innovative approach to protect older patients from declining physically and mentally while they are hospitalized.

Geriatricians, a geriatric nurse practitioner, an elder life specialist and trained volunteers work together to protect older patients from experiencing the potential loss of independence that may occur as an outcome of a hospital stay. Our staff works as a team to address the special needs of each older patient.

About the Program

Through HELP, the hospital becomes a place where older patients can feel secure as they participate in their treatment. The program is designed to enable patients to maintain some control over their recuperation.

Patients hospitalized are routinely assessed to see if they could benefit from the HELP program. Inpatients also may be suggested by physicians and nurses, long-term care facilities (when residents are admitted to the hospital), family and friends. Patients also may refer themselves.

Program Goals and Achievements

Our HELP program goals aim to:

  • Maintain cognitive and physical function of high-risk older adults during hospitalization
  • Maximize independence at discharge
  • Assist with transition from hospital to home
  • Reduce unplanned hospital readmissions

Results show that more than 99 percent of patients in our HELP program maintain or improve their cognitive and functional abilities while hospitalized here.

Because of the quality and effectiveness of our HELP program, Abington Hospital has been commended as a HELP Center of Excellence by the national Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP).

Unique Volunteer Opportunity

A volunteer visits our older patients daily to orient the patient to the hospital and to offer social support. They also provide assistance with meals, walking and other daily exercise, as well as with hearing and vision equipment. Volunteers encourage therapeutic activities to aid mental stimulation and socialization.

Volunteers play a crucial role in HELP. Our patients take comfort in the assistance and friendship they receive from trained volunteers, who are often college students or retirees. The HELP program gives volunteers the opportunity to work with patients directly and to make a difference in a patient's hospital experience.

College students needing to fulfill their clinical training or internship requirements will experience one-on-one patient interaction and learn to work with a team of healthcare professionals.

To volunteer:

  • Call 215-481-2490 to receive a volunteer application. Complete and return application.
  • Attend training program, which includes classroom education and supervised hands-on experience.
  • Volunteer for a minimum of one four-hour shift per week for six months or more.

For more information:

Muller Institute for Senior Health