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delirium, elderly, prevention, research translation, volunteers



  1. Sandhaus, Sonia MSN, RNC, CRNP
  2. Zalon, Margarete L. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC
  3. Valenti, Donna RNC
  4. Dzielak, Edward DO
  5. Smego, Raymond A. Jr MD
  6. Arzamasova, Ulyana BA


A community hospital with nearly 50% of its admitted patients 70 years or older adapted the well-established Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP). The primary adaptation entailed an enhanced participation of trained volunteers in HELP interventions designed to prevent and reduce delirium. Integral program elements include detailed volunteer training, required demonstration of competencies, and regular evaluation and feedback of volunteers provided by program staff. Nurse satisfaction with HELP increased from 64% to 91% in the second year of implementation, and a survey of patients and families indicated that 95% were satisfied with HELP. This innovative volunteer-assisted model of elder care support was positively embraced by patients, their families, and the nursing staff and supported by nursing administration. The use of volunteers is a cost-effective method of enhancing the nursing care of vulnerable elders during hospitalization.