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No Place Like Home Introducing the Drexel Family Medicine Geriatric Home Visit Program

July 12, 2019

Drexel Family Medicine’s Geriatric Home Visit (GHV) Program delivers comprehensive geriatric assessment, primary medical care and coordinated social services to homebound older adults in Philadelphia who are 65 years old or older. Now in its seventh year, the GHV team, headed by Brent Simmons, MD, is located at the Family Medicine/Manayunk office. During the last 12 months, the GHV team conducted 195 home visits with 45 patients and provided information and support to an additional 28 caregivers of those patients.

Older individuals at high risk of institutionalization because of complex medical issues and limited mobility are GHV’s target population. The program helps them maintain their independence and quality of life.

The geriatrician conducts a comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) to first identify the medical conditions affecting an older adult’s independence. A social worker then evaluates social and environmental conditions and problem-solves obstacles with the patient and families. Later, the social worker may connect the older person to health and social services within their community to address any identified barriers. Residents and medical students accompany the geriatricians and social workers on home visits, providing a unique educational experience that complements their classroom curriculum.

Notably, the evidence is clear about the benefits of this kind of home visit program. The American Geriatric Society (AGS) deemed CGAs a “necessary tool to minimize disability and loss of independence” in geriatric patients (2008). Research has pointed to a variety of CGA benefits including improved survival, slower functional decline and decreased hospital admissions (Caplan et al, 2004; Stuck et al, 1993; and Boult et al, 2001). Studies have also demonstrated that a CGA detects many medical and environmental problems missed by a regular assessment in older patients (H. Kao et al, 2009).

To learn more about the GHV program, contact Becky Ledva, LCSW at 215.967.1624.