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Cancer Institute Earns Age-Friendly Health System Designation

September 28, 2020

The Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute was recently designated an Age-Friendly Health System by a national movement focused on improving and tailoring healthcare for the elderly.

Age-Friendly Health Systems is an initiative of The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

The designation recognizes the Cancer Institute’s Comprehensive Oncology and Aging Care at Hartford (COACH) team’s demonstrated “commitment to care excellence” for older adults. In making such designations, the initiative looks for care that is:

  • Guided by age-friendly, evidence-based practices that touch on what the group calls “The 4Ms” for what Matters, Medication, Mentation and Mobility.
  • Causes no harm.
  • Is consistent with what matters to the older adult and their family.

“We are proud to receive this designation less than one year after launching COACH at Hartford HealthCare,” said Dr. Rawad Elias, medical director of the program. “The needs of the older patient with cancer are significantly different and we needed to create a team that supports them starting the first day of their cancer care”

COACH features a team of providers who work collaboratively with each other and the referring oncologist to help older patients maintain a life they enjoy even after a cancer diagnosis. This includes offering such assistance as:

  • Tips managing the household bills.
  • Guidance from a pharmacist to avoid negative interactions between cancer medications and others the patient takes for other health issues.
  • Nutritional advice so patients can maintain their strength during treatment.
  • Integrative therapy like yoga and acupuncture to help relieve pain, nausea and emotional anxiety that often comes with cancer and its treatment.
  • Psychosocial counseling and support.
  • Physical and occupational therapy to promote overall health, wellness and fitness, and enable patients to maintain their independence, movement and function during treatment.

“We screen patients to identify any vulnerabilities and then make recommendations to the patient, their family and their oncologist. We work with the oncologist to enhance the care of the older adult with necessary services and with the patients themselves to make sure that we are supporting what matters most for them.”  Dr. Elias said.