The Hospital Elder Life Program contributed to less delirium but patients often did not want to play Wii games during a research project at the Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health, according to a presentation at the 2015 Annual Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders conference in Orlando, Fla.
Megan Wheeler, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, an adult clinical nurse specialist with Baylor Scott & White Health, North Texas division, Dallas, explained that with grant funding, the health system created a HELP pilot, with volunteers interacting with patients ages 70 and older on five units, including a CCU, at two hospitals: Baylor Medical Center at Irving and Baylor Medical Center at Garland.
The intervention groups include one receiving a volunteer and one receiving a volunteer and playing Wii.
The trained volunteers could visit, participate in an activity, assist with meals, or in the second intervention group, also play Wii games with the patient.
The delirium rate was significantly less in the HELP groups — 6.5% among patients receiving the volunteer visits and 7% among the Wii players, compared with 12.6% in the control cohort. “We saw a significant decline in the delirium rate,” Wheeler said. “There were improvements in cognitive status changes.”
However, patients often declined to participate in Wii games, stating they were too old or it was kids’ stuff. Another challenge was the ever-changing volunteer schedules. As the grant comes to an end, the health system is evaluating the sustainability of offering Wii to patients.
Brenda Fine, BSN, RN-BC, CCRN, the HELP nurse and staff CCU nurse at Baylor Scott & White in Irving, said after the presentation family members recognize the technology and will often play with patients.
“It was an interesting use,” said conference attendee Aaron Malsch, MS, RN, GCNS-BC, senior services program coordinator at Aurora Healthcare in Milwaukee. He said he could see the potential of placing a Wii system in a common room for recreational therapists to use with patients.
“We’re always looking for ways to engage the senior population and keep [up] cognitive stimulation, patient satisfaction,” Malsch said.