Increasing occupational engagement and participation on the Geriatric Evaluation and Management Ward (GEM) at St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy

Ms Yvonne Mak-Yuen1,2, Ms Kate Allen3, Ms  Christine  Graven4, Ms  Tamara Tse1,2

1Occupational Therapy Department, St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy, Australia, 2Occupational Therapy, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia, 3Geriatric Evaluation and Management Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy, Australia, 4Physiotherapy Department, St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy, Australia


Aim: To identify patients, family members and staff health beliefs related to increasing activity engagement in the hospital settings and the specific barriers and enablers.

Method: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 patients, 3 family members and 5 staff. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative data were analysed using spiral content analysis.

Results: Barriers and incentives for increasing engagement and participation whilst in hospital have been identified. Analysis of interviews revealed five themes: 1. Nothing to do, 2. What can I do, 3. The desire for tailored activities, 4. Doing and becoming and 5. The importance of Multi Disciplinary Team (MDT) shared responsibility. Patients were often faced with nothing to do and were unsure of what to do. Activities that were fun, enjoyable, purposeful, beneficial and of their own choice drove their desire to engage. Family and MDT play an important role in facilitating patient engagement on the ward.

Significance of findings to allied health:

Engaging consumers is an important stage of research aligning with the Allied Health Victorian Research Framework. Recent evidence found that using ‘environmental enrichment’ strategies (EES) was significantly associated with an average reduction in length of stay by 3.4 days. We have the potential to make a similar impact to patients’ activity during their hospital stay and their length of stay using these simple and relatively inexpensive strategies, that are adapted to  individual patients’ wants and needs.


Yvonne is an Occupational Therapist, researcher and a current PhD Candidate at La Trobe University. She has worked within a number of major health networks in Melbourne across acute and inpatient rehabilitation settings, with a specialised focus in neurorehabilitation. Yvonne has been working at at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne as a Research Project officer, investigating the potentials for reduction in GEM patient’s length of stay by implementing tailored Environmental Enrichment Strategies.