Home care alternative for older people

Older patients in Adelaide’s north and north-east can now receive tailored in-patient care in their own home, as part of an innovative new program to avoid unnecessary hospital stays and free up beds.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Geriatrics in the Home (GITH) program provides elderly patients specialised treatment and care to help speed up their recovery while taking pressure off the hospital system ahead of the busy winter period.

“For older patients, a hospital stay often worsens their overall condition – it may disrupt their routine and sleep, reduce access to family and friends, and involve prolonged bed-rest which rapidly decreases muscle strength,” Minister Wade said.

“Receiving care in a familiar and comfortable surrounding benefits a patient’s overall wellbeing and improves treatment outcomes, as well as avoiding the risk of hospital acquired infection.

“As part of the program, patients can receive home visits and have rapid access to a specialist geriatrician if they do present to an emergency department.

“Additional nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists with geriatrics experience have been employed to facilitate the program and will take part in the home visits.

“The service will free up an estimated eight beds daily, and clinicians will work with patients to develop long-term care and management plans to avoid unnecessary trips to hospital and ease the pressure on our busy EDs.”

Northern Adelaide Local Health Network (NALHN) Director of Aged Care, Rehabilitation and Palliative Care, Dr John Maddison, said patients who are 65 years and over and live in the NALHN catchment area are eligible for referral into the GITH program.

“Patients will initially be reviewed by the Geriatric Consult Team and if they are deemed suitable, they will be admitted to the GITH program and receive their first home visit from a highly skilled clinician within 24 hours of discharge,” Dr Maddison said.

“Through the GITH service we can provide a variety of short-term care and treatment such as physical therapy, wound care, pain management, medication reviews, and risk assessments.

“The outcomes of this service will be closely monitored, in particular the experience of each patient and the impact on demand for beds.”

The service is one of a range of community care initiatives across SA Health that aims to facilitate hospital avoidance.

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