How acute and aged care can work together for the future

 

The growth of Australia’s population is currently one of the hottest topics in the health care industry, and while it’s undoubtedly great that people are living longer lives, having more patients to treat does present a few problems for our existing system. First off, more people require more health professionals, and with the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicting the population to reach 46 million by 2075, it’s clear that more recruitment methods and expertise is required.

It’s not just about volume, though, with perhaps the most pressing issue facing health care being the growing number of seniors. This is a demographic that requires more care, and lots of this falls under the banner of acute services, or can be accomplished by a well-equipped residential facility.

To ensure that future generations are well looked after, these two types of providers will need to work closely together, not only to provide a great service, but also to alleviate the burden of having so many more people to treat.

Repeated hospital admissions can have a very real impact psychologically and in terms of quality of life.

Challenges of a growing population

The acute sector is undoubtedly one of the most challenging areas to work in, and more citizens will only increase this difficulty. One solution is better recruitment to find more acute nurses who can deal with these sorts of issues, but this is only a partial solution. Even if far more nurses were to enter the sector, we’d still need to see a fundamental change take place in how we differentiate between who actually requires acute care and who does not.

This is especially relevant for seniors – where repeated hospital admissions can have a very real impact psychologically and in terms of quality of life. A simple solution is to treat as much as possible within a residential facility, thereby ensuring that acute nurses aren’t overworked or seniors being removed from their home unnecessarily.

So, how can we differentiate between what requires an acute or an aged care approach?

Acute health care should be saved for times when it's really required. Acute health care should be saved for times when it’s really required.

– The acute sector

According to the World Health Organisation, the single most important factor that separates acute health care from other areas is time pressure. This essentially refers to cases where if immediate action isn’t taken, there could be long-lasting damage. An example could be when a senior suffers a fall, and requires emergency surgery in order to ensure there isn’t a significant loss of mobility as a result.

With time pressure in mind, it’s easy to see how having too many people to look after could have a negative impact on a hospital as a whole. So, in any cases where admission can be avoided, an RACF should be able to step in.

The most important factor in providing a service is keeping residents mobile, independent and happy.

– An RACF

For any RACF the most important factor in providing a service is keeping residents mobile, independent and happy. This can be accomplished through the help of all sorts of allied health services ranging from physiotherapy through to dietetics, and all contribute to keeping seniors out of hospital.

It’s also worth considering how a RACF can work closely with the acute health sector to provide the best reaction after an accident has taken place. To go back to the example of a fall, while acute care may be required, it’s key to get a resident out of hospital and back into a familiar environment as soon as possible. This will make recovery more enjoyable and minimise the effects of being constrained to a hospital bed.

Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see what the future means for the health care sector, but in the mean time if you have any questions about recruiting or improving your facility, contact Australian Health Professionals today.

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Suite 504/ 8 Woodville Street, Hurstville, NSW 2220 Email: agedcare@aushp.com.au Phone: 02 8889 4072