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Meet inTouch: the urgent aged care service sweeping Sydney

A New South Wales urgent virtual care service is being expanded further into Sydney’s western suburbs to support residential aged care facilities and help people in need of medical advice.

<p>Developed for COVID-19 restrictions, inTouch is being rolled out for aged care telehealth and quick referrals. (Source: Shutterstock)</p>

Developed for COVID-19 restrictions, inTouch is being rolled out for aged care telehealth and quick referrals. (Source: Shutterstock)

Key Points:

  • The inTouch expansion aims to help 65 residential aged care facilities and 120 residents
  • The virtual service has helped address health concerns such as urinary tract infections, complex wounds, catheter management, and the delivery of intravenous therapies and antibiotics
  • inTouch was created by the Western Sydney Local Health District to help abide by COVID-19 restrictions in residential aged care

A New South Wales urgent virtual care service is being expanded further into Sydney’s western suburbs to support residential aged care facilities and help people in need of medical advice.

The service, inTouch, will be expanded to keep residents out of Emergency Departments and provide more comfortable care for concerns that are less urgent — supporting an already overstretched workforce tending to residents. 

The expansion will also include an increased number of referrals for aged care residents, the NSW Ambulance, and General Practitioners (GPs) as well as improved systems for assessment, care protocols, and clinical documentation.

The inTouch service provides a central point of contact for residential aged care staff, GPs, paramedics, hospital staff, and providers to collaborate via video conference to connect residents with a comprehensive virtual health assessment. 

General Manager of Moran Aged Care in Kellyville, Nelly Banag, says her team used the inTouch service four times and was a useful tool to clarify medical advice.

“The inTouch service has been very useful as our clinical staff can have difficulty getting medical advice to confirm our opinion about our residents’ medical issues and it can be difficult to access after-hours GP services,” says Ms Banag.

“It is good to have another service available for our Registered Nurses to refer to and to avoid residents unnecessarily attending hospital — residents get confused when transferred to the Emergency Department and often don’t want to go.”

Born from the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, inTouch was founded in 2021 by the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and commenced the clinical coordination of aged care residents in April 2022. 

After showing promising results, inTouch is going on to be a potentially long-lasting telehealth model since its birth in 2021.

“[Residential aged care facilities] across western Sydney are becoming more engaged and we are getting good feedback from their staff who report the service is simple to use and they really appreciate inTouch support and communication,” said WSLHD Chronic Care Program Nurse Unit Manager, Katia Joseph.

This seems to be the future trend for the industry, with virtual aged care programs run in other Australian states and territories. In October, The South Australian Government offered a virtual health service with an identical motive — to reduce the number of aged care residents going to the hospital by receiving virtual treatment from a doctor while still in their aged care facility.

Has your facility used virtual health services? Let us know in the comments below.

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