Hospital to home

Today’s announcement by the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, means more opportunities for aged care providers.

Above: Mark Butler, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing.

By Stephen Easton

A successful program that supports older Australians after a stay in hospital will be expanded, and eventually help more than 30,000 people every year, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler announced today.

The successful Transition Care Program, which provides personalised outpatient services to older Australians for up to 18 weeks, will be expanded by a further 651 places, bringing the total number to 4,000 nationally.

The new places will start rolling out in July this year and be fully operational by June 2012, and are allocated to the health department of each state and territory, who are the official approved providers for the scheme.

According to the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, any aged care providers interested in providing the transition care services should contact their relevant state or territory health department on the numbers provided here.

Jeff Fiebig, Manager of Program Development for transitional care provider ACH Group, said the announcement was very good news and that in South Australia, where ACH is based, the program had successfully helped a lot of older people get out of hospital sooner and in many cases, go home rather than into residential aged care.

But the idea could extend beyond just elderly outpatients, according to Mr Fiebig, who estimated that 20-30 per cent of people admitted to residential aged care could have stayed living at home instead, if support like that available through the Transition Care Program was available to a wider group of frail elderly people.

“At the moment, transition care is only for people who have been in hospital,” he said, adding that he hoped an expanded program to help all older Australians avoid going into residential aged care would come out of the Productivity Commission’s reform recommendations later this year.  

“A similar sort of program for [all] people in danger or at high risk of going into residential care would be a great intiaitive,” Mr Fiebig said. “It would be very good for the older people, but would also save the government a significant amount of funding in the future.”

“We’re finding now, in one service for the most frail people, that nearly 50 per cent of clients go home, and most of those were on their way to residential care before they came into transitional care.”

Mr Fiebig said the hospital system needed to undergo a significant change in culture, towards greater recognition of alternatives to the normal procedure of discharging most frail older people to nursing homes. 

Mr Butler said the announcement marked the fulfilment of an election promise to expand the service, which helps older people return home rather than go into a nursing home prematurely.

Older Australians in the program initially receive 12 weeks of flexible, customised care following discharge from hospital, either in their own home or in a residential setting, which they can extend for another 6 weeks.

“They can access a package of services that includes personal care, nursing care and low intensity therapy such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social work,” Mr Butler said.

“The program helps older people improve their independence and functioning while giving them, their families and carers time to think about long term care arrangements, such as entering a community aged care program or residential aged care.” 

Mr Butler pointed to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which he said had confirmed the success of the Transition Care Program, with statistics showing improved functional capacity for almost three quarters of people who completed it during the 2008-09 financial year.

“The results for 2009-10 are even better,” he said. “Of the more than 14,800 people who received transition care, more than 80 per cent have either improved or maintained their functional capacity and more than 50 per cent have been able to return to the community either in community aged care or totally independently.” 

The Minister also used the expansion of the Transition Care Program as an opportunity to underscore his govenrment’s commitment to respond to the needs of Australia’s ageing population

“Since being elected in 2007 the Government has committed more than $293 million to the Transition Care Program as part of a $40 billion investment in aged and community care.”

“We recognise Australia is an ageing society and we are putting plans in place now rather than waiting for the problem to overwhelm us. No government in Australian history has spent more on aged care and community care.”

Tags: aged-care, ageing, community-care, home-care, hospital-avoidance, mark-butler, minister-for-mental-health-and-ageing, older-australians, outpatient, outpatient-services, transition-care-program, transitional-care,

1 thought on “Hospital to home

  1. Transition beds are calculated at 85% of the normal rack rate for a client in a RACF. True transition care should be a balanced program of 3months at 1.5% x the current rate and follow the process of transfer from hospital to nursing home as a transitional rehabilitation client. Have the nursing home apply a multidisciplinary approach with physio, ADL, diet, podiatry and other services planned and established. The ACAT should be close with the nursing home waiting for right time to allocate an ACCR so the client can return to their home ready to live independently or on a package, and then build an outpatients relationship with the nursing home service provider.Yes eventually in preperation for having choice to return as a resident or end of life at home.

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