The right to your own GP in aged care and why it matters

Here’s why GP visits are essential for patients with high medical needs, regardless of where they live. Plus, the general differences in care between hospitals and nursing homes.

Most residents in aged care have complex medical, social, psychological and neurological issues. So,

having a regularly GP, who provides detailed attention and understanding of an individual’s health care needs, is vital for older Australians.

With consistent monitoring, a GP can recognise any clinical health changes – improving the opportunity for prevention and early treatment.

This is particularly important when older patients have a range of health issues at any one time. This could include Dementia, depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, incontinence – all which may require multiple medications (polypharmacy).

The challenge for GPs is to provide appropriate care of the highest quality to older people, regardless of where they are living, according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

RACGP states: “GPs working collaboratively with other health providers play a key role in delivering high quality primary care to older people living in residential aged care settings”.

However, then it comes to general practice services in residential aged care facilities, there are several different models for how this is delivered. And, RACPG explains, all models are limited by low levels of reimbursement.

To help, Melbourne Geriatricians Group partner with nursing homes to provide a fully bulk billed service, including compressive geriatric assessment to review a resident’s medical, physical, psychological and social health.

The same physician then regularly visits the resident offering ongoing proactive and holistic care. This includes falls prevention, medication reviews, memory assessments, emergency visits, ongoing communication with families and more to ensure every patient enjoys the highest quality of life possible during their twilight years.

Hospitals versus nursing homes

 People in residential aged care facilities, aged 65 years and above account for almost nine per cent of hospital admissions, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. However, there are some misconceptions about the differences in doctor care between hospitals and nursing homes.

To explain, in a hospital patients are often acutely ill and are being treated to get better – or at least to achieve a certain stability in their health. In a hospital there are nurses and doctors available 24/7.

Hospitals also include various departments that specialise in things like cancer, inpatients, cardiology, and surgery with doctors trained in each area; while there are no departments in nursing homes.

Furthermore, a nursing home is a place for those people who need continuous or very frequent care, either because of often chronic medical problems, decreased mobility due to age, or cognitive issues.

Residents are generally stable though, even with their illness. Some people do get better with the care of their regular GP, geriatrician and nursing home staff, but most don’t and will stay there until the end.

 To find out more about healthy ageing, caregivers, dementia, mobility and nursing homes visit our comprehensive Resource Library.