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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Doctors need support to help their aged care patients

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AMA members are reporting significant barriers deterring them from visiting aged care facilities, which is why the AMA is calling for better support for our doctors when visiting elderly patients in nursing homes – to give them the care they deserve.

The AMA is calling on Government for well-funded health and aged care policies to meet the needs of older people, following last week’s release of the AMA’s Putting health care back into aged care report (https://ama.com.au/articles/report-putting-health-care-back-aged-care).

Barriers that prevent the delivery of quality health care include a lack of nursing staff to identify patients and help with clinical handovers, no private examination rooms available and physical difficulties accessing nursing homes like car parking, swipe cards and access codes.

The AMA is calling for increased funding to support and encourage more GPs to visit patients in nursing homes, as well as greater investment in nursing home facilities to make it easier for GPs to deliver the care that people in nursing homes deserve.

“AMA Members have signaled their intention to reduce nursing home visits and even cease them altogether and this is the last thing we want right now, when we know our older loved ones are suffering from a lack of medical care inside nursing homes,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“Instead we should be attracting more doctors into aged care by supporting them to take the time away from their busy practices and visit patients in nursing homes. That way GPs can continue their relationships with their elderly patients who move into aged care.

“We are calling for increased  funding so that GPs can work with nurses to deliver the quality and quantity of care that older Australians expect, and deserve, in a way that is sustainable for the health system.”

AMA Vice President, Dr Chris Moy, is a GP and works in aged care. He says there are a whole raft of non-contact activities carried out by GPs to support their aged care patients.

“Things like needing to discuss treatment with relatives and nursing home staff – it’s almost like looking after three patients, not just one – as well as the mountain of paperwork that goes with that takes time and doctors must be supported in doing this,” Dr Moy said.

Stay up-to-date on the AMA’s Care Can’t Wait aged care campaign and join the conversation on Twitter as the AMA continues to advocate on behalf of doctors and the health care of all Australians.

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