New voluntary aged care standards designed for a ‘very complex sector’

Matt Woodley

3/09/2019 4:04:57 PM

The RACGP document will be the first of its kind and focus on how RACFs can support and improve standards of primary healthcare delivery.

Aged care
It is hoped the voluntary standards will help to generate change, including improvements to systems and equipment that often do not support the safe and effective delivery of care.

A draft of the voluntary standards is set to be released for public consultation next month, with a view to releasing the final document in mid-2020.
Dr Louise Acland, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC–SGP), described the impending release as ‘very exciting’. She believes the new standards address an area of aged care that is currently underserved.
‘It’s a very complex sector and there’s a need for more support so that our older Australians living in residential aged care facilities [RACFs] can access general practice care in a timely, appropriate and safe manner,’ Dr Acland told newsGP.
‘The college has been contacted by many members who have expressed their concerns about the barriers they face when they’re trying to deliver care to their patients in aged cared facilities.’
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon has previously said GPs do not receive enough support when treating patients in RACFs. It is hoped the new standards will help to generate change, including improvements to systems and equipment that in many cases do not support the safe and effective delivery of care.
It is set to also include recommendations related to resident care coordination, infrastructure, and the qualifications of the broader care team.
‘The focus is how to best translate the high-quality care delivered in general practice consulting rooms to an RACF,’ Dr Acland said.
‘There are many challenges at the moment that GPs face working in the sector and these standards are designed to … make that care provision safer and more effective.
‘A lot of advocacy work the college is doing dovetails quite nicely with the development of these voluntary standards.’
While other aged care standards exist, the RACGP’s new document will be the first to focus specifically on ways to help GPs provide high-quality care in the RACF setting.
The project’s working group, which comprised GPs and practice nurses team with significant and direct experience working in the sector, researched aged care best practice both overseas and in Australia. The group cross-referenced these findings with existing general practice standards to determine the indicators transferable to RACFs.
Dr Acland said many benefits could be derived from the new standards, especially in the context of an ageing population and harrowing stories that have emerged from the royal commission.
‘If there are general practice issues that can be addressed at the aged care facility that currently can’t be provided because of, for example, a lack of suitable consultation space or treatment room, it can save the patient a trip to hospital, which is very disruptive,’ she said.
‘As primary care deliverers we [can] save the healthcare system a lot of money by providing care in the community that prevents or eliminates the need for patients to have to present to emergency departments.
‘It [also] certainly minimises the interruption to the continuity of care, because the care is provided by the patient’s regular provider … there are many benefits to be gained through this document.’

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