This is a WHO Collaborating Center for Healthy Ageing and Dementia initiatives led by HMC’s Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care
Doha 8 May 2023: Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care, which has been appointed as a WHO Collaborating Center for Healthy Ageing and Dementia in Qatar, has partnered with Primary Health Care Corporation to establish the first Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) Clinic in Al Wajba Health Center. The ICOPE healthcare approach helps broader health and social care systems respond more effectively to the diverse and complex needs of older people.
The WHO ICOPE Guidelines provide recommendations for healthcare workers on how to best assess older people’s health and effectively address their needs, ideally in community-based healthcare settings that are easy to access. The aim is to promote healthy ageing practices and prevent, slow, or reverse declines in the physical and mental capacities of older people.
Dr. Samya Ahmad Al Abdulla, Senior Consultant of Family Medicine & Executive Director of Operations at Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) shared her excitement at opening the first ICOPE clinic in a primary care setting: “This clinic will have a significant impact on the long-term care outcomes of our older population. The clinic has special, highly skilled & trained healthcare staff who are dedicated to the integrated care of older people at the community level. This service will address the numerous physiological changes that occur with increasing age and will enable us to screen more efficiently and effectively for conditions that are more common among this patient population and enable us to provide a timelier response suited to their needs.
“Choosing Qatar as the first pilot site in the middle eastern region is a great honor, and I appreciate the education and knowledge investment that Dr. Hanadi and her team have made in sharing their expertise and helping to train our primary care teams involved in this amazing project. This is a real demonstration of what collaboration can achieve that is based on a joint commitment to deliver the best evidence-based care to our older population.” added Dr. Al Abdulla.
Dr. Hanadi Al-Hamad, National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Ageing in Qatar, Chairperson of the Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care at HMC, and Medical Director at Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, explained the key elements of the ICOPE clinic: “The clinic is set up with reception desk and assessment and treatment rooms that focus on diagnosing and managing the numerous physiological changes that often occur with increasing age.
“As people age, the decline in their health can manifest as visual impairment, hearing loss, cognitive decline, malnutrition, mobility loss, depressive symptoms, urinary incontinence, and balance issues that may lead to falls. We aim to identify any such impairments, or the risk of them developing or progressing, as soon as possible to be able to intervene and enable the older person to experience a better quality of life, based on a recognition of their right to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“Al Wajba health center is an ideal location for the first clinic of this kind in Qatar and patients over the age of 60 who live in the catchment area can contact the health center for an appointment. The designated area has been decorated in a friendly way to help visiting patients feel more comfortable and less like they are in a sterile clinical environment. We aim to establish similar clinics in more health centers across the country that are tailored to the needs and preferences of our patients,” added Dr. Al-Hamad.
Dr. Abdulla Al-Ansari, Chief Medical Officer at HMC explained that this approach will deliver care that is more patient-centered and efficient: “ICOPE reflects a transformation in healthcare, where the delivery of care incorporates the whole period that the patient needs treatment. This approach will help to reorient health and social services towards a more person-centered and coordinated model of care. That is better for the patient, their family, and the healthcare system on which they depend.”
Dr. Meshal Abdulla AlMesaifri, Manager of Al Wajba Health Center, commended the strong collaboration between HMC and PHCC to bring this program to fruition: “I am delighted with the support we had from HMC’s multidisciplinary clinicians, including physicians, case managers, nurses, and therapists, to help us set up this clinic, which is based on the WHO model and best-practice screening tools to assess the physical, emotional and cognitive needs of our older patients. We will be sharing the experience and know-how from this clinic with colleagues to assist in opening more such clinics to serve their respective communities.”