A new medical outreach service helps aged care residents avoid unnecessary trips to hospital emergency departments.
Under the trial, general practitioners and residential aged care facilities in Brisbane’s north can call a new Geriatric Outreach Assessment Service (GOAS) at The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH) for assistance with managing the acute care needs of aged care residents.
Brisbane North PHN board chair Dr Anita Green said the new service aimed to curb the growing number of aged care residents who presented at TPCH for acute healthcare.
“Our data shows there has been a significant increase in aged care residents presenting to the emergency department over the past five years,” Dr Green said.
“We know hospitals have specialist expertise in the treatment of elderly people, but we needed a better way for GPs and aged care residents to access this expertise,” she said.
TPCH geriatrician Dr Gurudev Kewalram said the outreach service meant older patients could receive timely and appropriate medical care without having to leave their home environment.
The initiative follows a call for medical outreach services from aged care providers at an event hosted by Brisbane North PHN last year, which explored how to create improved systems of care (read AAA’s story here).
The outreach concept is supported by Wesley Mission Queensland director of residential aged care Annie Gibney, who sees its major benefit being for the wellbeing of residents, many of whom have dementia.
“Being taken to a hospital emergency department on a cold trolley in a strange environment away from familiar faces is extremely traumatic,” Ms Gibney told AAA.
“While their GPs are caring, they’re not always accessible in an emergency. So the hospital coming out to us to help will be very timely and helpful to us all.”
She said more than 500 residents across six Wesley Mission Queensland facilities could access the service.
Residential facilities in the hospital’s catchment area can contact the GOAS about any resident who has an acute health condition that they are concerned about.
GOAS will include:
- medical and nursing review and resident review following hospital discharge
- management of acute conditions including pneumonia, urinary tract infections, cellulitis, exacerbation of COPD and exacerbation of chronic cardiac failure
- acute management of behaviour disorders in residents with dementia
- falls, end-of-life care, clinical support and staff education.
The GOAS is a joint initiative of Metro North Hospital and Health Service and Brisbane North PHN.
The trial will be evaluated after 12 months to determine if it offers a cost-effective service model suitable for regionally consistent implementation across the Metro North region.
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