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How the new Primary Health Care Plan will benefit older Australians

Last Updated at June 23rd 2022
From this year, a new ten-year plan for Australia's Primary Health has come into effect - the beginning of vast reform changes to improve quality primary health care in the country.

Key points:

  • There are three main streams of reform that will strengthen the current primary health care system
  • They are implemented to improve how health care works together with other health care related services to better support consumers
  • Older people can expect to see improvements in continuity of care and overall health experiences
Happy older woman
This plan had older Australians in mind when creating the strategy and how the provision of care could be improved. [Source: Adobe Stock]

While Australia provides one of the best high-quality health care systems in the world, there are shortfalls and improvements to be made that will result in better health outcomes for all Australians.

The changes that will be made over the next ten years will greatly improve how health care works and functions with other health care related services, such as a strengthened multidisciplinary approach to aged care, which will have a positive effect on how older Australians interact and receive care and support.

It will also ensure overall better quality care for older Australians and ongoing continuity of care, no matter your stage in life.

So what can you expect in this ten year plan?

What changes will be made?

There are three main streams of reform that will be implemented over the next ten years:

  • Health care focused on the future
  • Primary health care that is person-centred and supported by appropriate funding
  • Improvements in locally delivered care that is integrated with other health systems

An evaluation framework will be developed and finalised by the end of 2022 to ensure adequate implementation of this long-term plan.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian health care system adapted and built on the changes it needed to make to ensure all Australians were protected against an unknown new disease.

The former Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, indicated that the changes made within weeks of COVID-19 spreading through Australia could be replicated tenfold with this new plan.

Any challenges older Australians faced during the pandemic will be addressed in the new ten year plan.

Health care providers and related services will be given the funding and support necessary to embrace new ways of delivering care in a quality manner.

This plan will be working alongside other newly made health care strategies, including the National Medical Workforce Strategy, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021 - 2031, and the National Preventative Health Strategy 2021 - 2031.

Also, included in the new plan is the importance of utilising telehealth services, which were proven to be incredibly useful over the COVID-19 pandemic.

What the plan intends to do

The ten year plan has four aims, including:

  • Improving a person's experience of care
  • The health of the Australian population
  • Making a more cost-efficient health system
  • Providing health care providers with a better work-life

This new plan will ensure that people utilising any health systems will have:

  • Equitable access to services
  • Assist in closing the gap for health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Bolster the health and wellbeing of communities
  • Ensure a system that supports continuity of care
  • Integrate health systems to be more sustainable and reliant on one another
  • Encourage new technologies and methods for future health care
  • Support health care to improve on its safety and quality

People will be at the centre of the care they receive which can be really important for older Australians who rely on receiving regular and continued care. You can learn more about the benefits of a regular doctor in our article 'Can I keep my regular doctor when I move into aged care?'

How older Australians will benefit

During the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Commissioners noted that the current health care system was not integrated well with other systems, like aged care and allied health.

This was resulting in poor health outcomes, and many older Australians living in aged care described poor communication between their facilities and hospitals during transferrals and admissions.

Additionally, the Commission found that there are shortfalls in primary care services that older Australians utilise and recommended fixing these problems to provide better outcomes for the older generation.

This plan had older Australians in mind when creating the strategy and how the provision of care could be improved, and older people were involved in the consultation process of this plan.

In the Primary Health Care Plan, it aims to:

  • Slow the rate of decline and frailty in older people
  • Reduce older people's need for home care and residential care
  • Reduce the risk of unnecessary emergency admission and hospital admission

COVID-19 showed the gaps in health care for older Australians living in the community or in residential aged care and the new plan will be making positive steps to give all Australians an integrated approach to the health care system.

You can learn more about the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan 2022-2032 on the Government Health website.

What improvements are you looking forward to seeing in the Australian primary health care system? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Top health concerns for older people
Can I keep my regular doctor when I move into aged care?
Allied health to assist with the ageing experience

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