Older people needing emergency care will benefit from the rollout of a $1 million Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) service at Mackay Base Hospital.
The new team supports frail people aged over 70, residential aged care facility residents and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 years and over.
Mackay Base Hospital has recruited additional staff including three highly skills nurses who will work with a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, social worker and pharmacist.
Chief Executive Jo Whitehead said the Mackay HHS’s aging population was reflected in increased emergency presentations.
Emergency presentations by people aged over 75 have grown by 10-13% a year for the past four years.
“We also know that older patients have more complex needs and they spend longer in emergency than any other age group,” Ms Whitehead said.
“GEDI is all about providing timely and appropriate care for the older person which will avoid deterioration in their health as well as reduce any unnecessary hospital admissions,” she said.
Older people should receive care from their GP in the first instance where possible.
The team will also support older patients with early intervention, decision making and discharge planning requirements.
Ms Whitehead said assessing the patients against a frailty scale of 1-9 would allow staff to quickly identify and prioritise those most at risk of complications.
Other screening tools will assess the older person for delirium and their risk of a fall.
“We hope there will be a reduction in hospital presentations and admissions for older patients because we can identify their needs when they are ready to leave hospital and ensure they have good supports in place at home,” she said.
“We really want to enable older patients to spend as less time at hospital as possible, prevent deterioration of frailty and improve their quality of life.”
The service is a key component of the Healthy ageing: A strategy for older Queenslanders providing frontload frailty assessment, prioritising care needs and fast tracking frail older persons through the emergency department.
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