Bupa aged care has announced its industry leading plan to revolutionise the aged care sector with an initiative to employ General Practitioners to work across its residential care homes as part of a new model that includes digital health reporting and access to specialists via telehealth consultations.
The new model will be academically evaluated to provide a blueprint for best practice care in aged care homes across the country through a new preventive approach.
This new initiative to improve complex health care within aged care homes is expected to deliver distinct health benefits to residents including a significant reduction in hospital visits and length of hospital stays.
The Integrated Health Care initiative has already commenced rollout in six Bupa aged care homes, and will be introduced in an additional nine facilities before August 2014, with a view to eventually rolling out the concept to all homes across Australia.
Bupa Care Services Australia managing director, Louis Dudley, says the project is expected to greatly improve health outcomes for residents.
“One in four of all aged care residents is admitted to hospital every year, and about 30% of these admissions could have been avoided if a GP or other primary health carer was available to assess the resident before a transfer was needed,” Mr Dudley said.
“Accessing consistent, quality GP services for residents in aged care homes has been a real challenge for aged care providers, and addressing this was central to our plan to help our residents live longer, healthier, happier lives.”
A 2012 Bupa study of 1,000 Australians aged 50 years and over showed that 83% of respondents wanted a relationship with a doctor who understands them and their medical history, and 80% said they wanted to have regular health assessments and access to preventive measures, not just reactive treatment.
Under the existing model in aged care, only 30% of residents retain their family GP when they enter residential care, leaving the remaining 70% without a GP at this critical point in their lives.
“An in-house GP will work with our dedicated nurses to deliver personalised medical care to residents. This pioneering model is designed to deliver measurable benefits to our residents and will help to ensure that they have access to the very best care as we work to meet their changing needs,” Mr Dudley said.
“There are great benefits in receiving continuity of care from a GP that knows the resident and their family. Our residents will benefit from improved access to complex medical care, early referral to specialists, early intervention for new and evolving conditions, and we expect a reduction in hospital admissions.
“The model will provide access to telehealth specialist consultations when required, as well as the opportunity for residents’ data to be digitally shared securely with local clinicians, specialists and hospital staff for more integrated health care.
Residents who choose to see the Bupa GP will have regular consultations that will be bulk billed through Medicare with no additional cost for the resident.
“The new model of care will also create opportunities to develop the clinical capability of our nurses, enabling them to deliver more complex health care within the residential age care setting.
The model is being formally evaluated by University of Tasmania’s Wicking Institute. The study will assess the impact of the model on key clinical outcomes over three years to demonstrate the clinical and financial benefits of operating a proactive Integrated Health Care model within residential aged care.