The importance of making contact with vulnerable older people living in the community and promoting the significance of preventative health has been highlighted yet again, with RDNS reporting that 30 per cent of the seniors who availed of recent free health checks were referred to their GP for follow-up investigations.

About 500 people visited the RDNS Healthy Pit Stop during last week’s Victorian Seniors Festival, where nurses conducted blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol tests.

RDNS Clinical Coordinator Debbie Williams said that in one case a nurse strongly encouraged a participant who presented with alarmingly high blood glucose level to go directly to hospital for further investigations.

“Quite clearly the number of people who dropped by our Healthy Pit Stop were interested in their health and may have saved themselves from a complex illness – or worse.”

Williams said the 30 per cent figure was similar to the outcomes of the Victorian Government’s WorkHealth Checks, which covered Victorian workers and were based on a lifestyle questionnaire and medical history, as well as blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checks.

“A broad spectrum of people visited the Healthy Pit Stop,” Williams said. “You had really healthy people coming in, who had looked after themselves well and took care of their diet and exercise; then you had other people who obviously didn’t take care of their diet and exercise at all.”

Making contact

Williams said it was an important and effective way of reaching out to community-based older people who might not otherwise make contact with healthcare providers.

“There was one lady in particularly I was really bothered by. She had a massive leg ulcer, for years and years. It had been a small ulcer to start with but she’d been looking after it herself, with her GP, and had been to various kinds of services. The ulcer would almost heal up and they’d say you’re fine now, and then it would break out again. When I saw her, it was almost the whole way around the bottom of her leg.”

Williams said the lady was very reluctant to engage with healthcare providers and was concerned about allowing staff into her home.

“I think some of it was because she’d been looking after it for so long by herself and her doctor just let her do it, and I think she had some issues around people coming to her house.

“I gave her as much information as I could, and I told her that at some point in time, when she decides she needs some help, to please call us.”

 

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