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 (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.
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, 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.
"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.
The WHO ICOPE Guidelines provide recommendations for healthcare workers on how to best assess older peoples 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.
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."