A community rapid response team that implemented a partnership with emergency services, and an organisation that provides housing for elderly and frail homeless people have won national honours at the Hesta Aged Care Awards.
The Uniting War Memorial Hospital Geriatric Flying squad (GFS), based in NSW, took out the Team Innovation award while Victorian aged welfare company Wintringham won the gong for Outstanding Organisation in Canberra last Thursday night.
Preventing emergency visits
Uniting GFS started in 2010 to bridge the gap between community services and the ED, team member and clinical Nurse Consultant Diane Gellatly told Community Care Review. In general, the GFS model works by acting on referrals from a GP, family member or individual to make home visits and conduct rapid assessments for a range of conditions such as confusion, falls, dehydration and even social isolation.
A 2018 study showed that used in residential aged care, the GFS model prevented emergency visits for more than 90 per cent of referred patients by offering rapid assessment and management.
Under the Uniting system, patients can be referred directly by paramedics and police who have contact with them.
“The service was growing and we started to get referrals where people … were being seen by ambulances, or maybe the police had found them wandering,” Ms Gellatly said.
“We thought, if the ambulance and police could refer to us we could have intervened earlier and maybe avoided adverse outcomes. So we went to the ambulance and police and said, ‘look we’re here – use us!'”
Ms Gellatly said older people were often forgotten or disadvantaged by an increasingly complex health care system.
“The collaboration with NSW Ambulance Service and NSW Police has proven to be an efficient use of community resources that better meet the needs of older people in the community, also ensuring more appropriate use of emergency service resources,” she said.
She also said other GFS’ had begun adopting the model.
“There’s starting to become awareness that there’s a role for these models to have a really strong place with health services as a link between community and the hospital. Its definitely gaining momentum.”
Ms Gellatly said Uniting GFS planned to use the prize money to fund education sessions and develop resources to further educate local police and ambulance services about thereferral system.
Looking after the homeless
Meanwhile, Melbourne-based specialist aged care organisation Wintringham was recognised for its contribution to social justice for ageing Australians who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, through its community outreach, housing support, aged care and referral services.
Wintringham is the country’s largest specialist not-for-profit aged care service, supporting over 2,000 vulnerable people every night.
Wintringham Chief Executive and Founder Bryan Lipmann said the award recognised of the organisation’s hard work and inspirational staff efforts.
“Winning this award is recognition of all that Wintringham has achieved in supporting the elderly disadvantaged over the last 30 years,” said Mr Lipmann said.
“It’s greatly rewarding to provide a permanent pathway out of homelessness for elderly disadvantaged men and women. By providing safe, secure and supported accommodation options, we deliver a ‘home until stumps’ approach allowing our residents and clients to enjoy an independent and dignified life.”
Bryan said the prize money will be used to provide training opportunities for staff, giving them the opportunity to further develop their skills and expertise.
The awards recognise individuals and organisations in the aged care sector who have made an exceptional contribution to improving the quality of life for older Australians.
You can read more about the GFS model here.