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Consumers push for improved links between primary and aged care

Better integration of primary healthcare into aged care is needed to meet the healthcare needs of all older Australians, according to the CEO of a consumer peak body.

Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells said the CHF supported the Aged Care Roadmap, noting it also called for better links with health services.

And her organisation stood with the sector on the concerns about recent funding cuts if quality of healthcare was affected, she said.

Leanne Wells

Leanne Wells

Ms Wells was speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of her participation on a panel about reframing primary healthcare for older Australians at COTA’s National Policy Forum in Canberra next week.

The age old battle of getting GPs into aged care settings was a complex one and included issues to do with remuneration and unsociable hours, she said.

“We need better integration; we need incentives to get primary workforce reaching into aged care,” Ms Wells said.

There were interesting models that could be explored, some of which were in place around the country, such as primary care and nurse-led clinics collocated in aged care facilities, and Primary Health Networks running a roster system to allow GPs who didn’t want to specialise in aged care to still serve their broad community, she said.

“There are lots of clever ways of using existing workforce to fill service gaps or provide a more responsive service across the spectrum,” Ms Wells said.

Support for reform

She said the CHF supported the aged care reforms driven by the principles of consumer directed care, better self-management and better self-determination and shared concerns with the sector over aged care funding cuts to complex healthcare announced in the Budget.

“There have been some concerns expressed about [the ACFI cuts] and we would share those concerns if there’s a risk that quality will be eroded,” Ms Wells said.

Similarly, Ms Wells said the CHF supported the Aged Care Roadmap, which put consumers at the centre and sought to move the system to one where consumer directed care was the norm not the exception.

“CHF also supports the fact that the roadmap acknowledges that dementia needs special attention and that aged care services need to link better with others services including health – general practice and hospitals – to ensure older people’s health needs are also met.

“In what is an aspirational document, the critical issues as we see them is the provision of adequate resourcing to achieve everything the roadmap sets out and the need for more attention to the adequacy of the workforce to deliver the care and support,” said Ms Wells.

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