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Can I keep my regular doctor when I move into aged care?

Developing a strong relationship with a doctor in your later years can be really beneficial to your overall health.

Last updated: January 31st 2022
You are allowed to keep any medical professional you have outside of your aged care home once you move in. [Source: Shutterstock]

You are allowed to keep any medical professional you have outside of your aged care home once you move in. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • A regular doctor can ensure ongoing and coordinated care for an older resident
  • You are able to keep your regular doctor and your aged care facility can help you organise appointments and transport to and from the appointment
  • Your aged care provider can assist you in finding a new doctor if you are unable to see your regular doctor

Your doctor gets to know you, has a good understanding of your health and medical history, and how to deliver that care to you in the best way possible.

If you get to a point where your health requires more attention, you may decide to move into a residential aged care facility and, it would be natural to wonder what happens to your doctor and how will you receive the care you need?

The good news is that when you’re moving into an aged care home, you do not need to give up your primary doctor and you can be assured that your facility will assist you in getting the care you need.

Benefits of a regular doctor

For older people, chronic conditions can start appearing and having a regular doctor to treat those conditions can have a significant impact on maintaining your wellbeing and managing your health problems.

Your general practitioner (GP) will be able to ensure your care is coordinated with other health professionals and delivered on an ongoing basis, so the problem you are having can be regularly monitored.

Getting medical advice from a new doctor in a new environment may be scary if you move into aged care, so it is understandable that you would want to see a friendly face that knows you as well as the ins and outs of your medical history. And you may feel more comfortable discussing sensitive topics.

It’s important to have someone you trust to provide you medical care and this means you feel confident in the medical advice and treatment they provide, and you are willing to give them all the information they need so you can get the best care possible.

Your doctor and aged care

Whilst the facility most likely has a regular doctor that visits the facility to treat residents, you are more than welcome to keep seeing any medical professional you have outside of your aged care home once you move in.

Your aged care facility should assist you in seeing your local doctor, your regular dentist, or other allied health experts.

The great thing is, you don’t have to book your own medical appointments, you can ask your aged care facility to book them for you.

Additionally, your nursing home will be able to assist you with transportation to and from the appointment with your doctor, dentist or allied health professional.

Depending on the facility, you may be required to pay for transportation to your appointment as well as the cost of a care worker to come to the appointment with you – in cases where family members, friends or carers can’t attend with you.

If, however, you are unable to travel to see your doctor and your doctor is unable to visit the nursing home to see you, your aged care facility will assist you in finding a new doctor to meet your medical needs.

If you can’t see your doctor face to face due to travel barriers, your aged care provider can also assist you in organising a telehealth consultation or appointment instead and help you with using the technology.

Medical professionals and aged care

When you first enter your new nursing home, you will sit down with a person from your facility to discuss what your care needs are so they can create a personalised care plan for you.

However, if you have already developed a care plan with your doctor, community nurse or an allied health worker, then you are able to implement that instead.

Some nursing homes have medical practitioners, dentists or other health professionals on staff, or regularly visiting, to assist with the medical care of the residents, however, this can differ between aged care facilities.

These professionals tend to cover aged care residents who don’t have a normal doctor, any emergency care assistance or treatments, or for regular checkups on residents. You can expect these doctors to work with the nursing staff team at your aged care facility and they may prescribe treatments or medication for the nursing team to follow.

Have you got a regular doctor yet? And if not, what are you looking for in a regular GP? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Top health concerns for older people
Allied health to assist with the ageing experience
Top tips for older people to keep up dental hygiene

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