The clinic is a WHO Collaborating Center for Healthy Ageing and Dementia initiatives led by HMC’s Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care

The Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has recently partnered with the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) 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.

WHO ICOPE guidelines

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 and Executive Director of Operations at PHCC, shared her excitement at opening the first ICOPE clinic in a primary care setting. She said that the clinic will have a significant impact on the long-term care outcomes of older population. The clinic is manned by highly skilled and trained healthcare staff dedicated to the integrated care of older people at the community level.

Dr Al Abdulla said that the service will address the numerous physiological changes that occur with increasing age and will enable them to screen more efficiently and effectively for conditions that are more common among the patient population and enable them to provide a timelier response suited to their needs.

Choosing Qatar as the first pilot site in the middle eastern region is a great honour, 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.

She added that this is a real demonstration of what collaboration can achieve based on a joint commitment to deliver the best evidence-based care to older population.

Key elements of the ICOPE clinic

Dr Hanadi Al-Hamad, National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Ageing in Qatar and Chairperson of the Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care at HMC, explained the key elements of the ICOPE clinic.

The clinic is set up with reception desk and assessment and treatment rooms focused on diagnosing and managing the numerous physiological changes that often occur with increasing age.

According to Dr Al-Hamad, 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 get in touch with the health centre for an appointment. Dr Al-Hamad added that 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 centres across the country that are tailored to the needs and preferences of our patients.

This approach will deliver care that is more patient-centred and efficient, says HMC Chief Medical Officer Dr Abdulla Al-Ansari. He said that ICOPE reflects a transformation in healthcare, where the delivery of care incorporates the whole period when the patient needs treatment.

The approach will help to reorient health and social services towards a more person-centred and coordinated model of care. This is better for the patient, their family and the healthcare system on which they depend.

Al Wajba Health Center Manager Dr Meshal Abdulla AlMesaifri commended the strong collaboration between HMC and PHCC to bring the programme 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.

He said they will be sharing the experience and know-how from the clinic with colleagues to assist in opening similar clinics to serve their respective communities.

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