New trial breakthrough for aged healthcare
A NORTH Brisbane trial of a new model of medical care for aged care residents has been hailed a success, saving more than 630 elderly patients a trip to the emergency department and saving the State Government about $4 million.
The Geriatric Outreach Assessment Service (GOAS) was trialled over one year in 24 residential aged care facilities across The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH) catchment.
The service aimed to improve the quality of medical care for acutely unwell aged care residents while preventing their unnecessary hospitalisation.
The project team of specialists - a part-time geriatrician, full-time registrar, two clinical nurses and an administration officer - were called in, when needed, to treat aged care residents in their own homes.
An internal evaluation found GOAS had potentially prevented 638 emergency department presentations to TPCH, equating to 66 per cent of the 960 episodes of care provided during the trial.
Brisbane North PHN's Executive Manager for Aged and Community Care Michele Smith said GOAS had also delivered a significant cost saving to the health system.
"Our analysis showed that without GOAS it would have cost the Queensland Government anywhere from $3.5 million to $4.3 million to provide hospital treatment for the 744 aged care residents involved in the 12-month trial," Ms Smith said.
"By comparison our pilot project cost $746,000, inclusive of set up expenses, and we expect GOAS will cost just $464,000 per year to run on an ongoing basis."
Results from more than 1700 survey responses showed GOAS had improved quality of care for residential aged care residents, with 98 per cent of participants likely to recommend the service to others.
Alexina Clarke, a resident of Mercy Community Aged Care in Nudgee, was one of the people treated, on two occasions, through the pilot project.
"They came out and they fixed me," she said.
Ms Clarke, who is legally blind, especially appreciated the convenience of being treated in her home.
"It's tiring to get dressed and get into Chermside (hospital) and get up to the room and wait hours and then get home. It's very tiring for a person my age."
Metro North Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Clinical Services Dr Elizabeth Whiting said GOAS would continue to be offered as part of Metro North's Residential Aged Care Assessment and Referral Service.
The evaluation has recommended an expansion of GOAS across all hospitals in Brisbane North to ensure a regionally-consistent approach to the provision of healthcare to unwell aged care residents.