Caring for our older Southern Adelaide patients

18 October 2021

(Southern Health News, September 2021)

SALHN’s new Complex And RestorativE (CARE) service, staffed by specialist geriatric, nursing and allied health staff, has been designed to improve care for older patients by providing alternative treatment pathways to EDs where emergency care is not required. 

“We know our hospitals are experiencing an increase in demand and this is predicted to grow over the coming years alongside an aging demographic in the South,” said David Morris, SALHN Executive Director. 

“With this in mind, the CARE service will provide patient centred and flexible treatment options for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, provide additional care options at home and at the Repat, and assist with easing pressure on our acute hospital services.”

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network’s Clinical Director of Rehabilitation, Aged Care and Palliative Care, Associate Prof Craig Whitehead said the proportion of people aged 70 years and older across Southern Adelaide is projected to increase at a greater rate than for the rest of the Adelaide metropolitan region, the state and Australia as a whole.

“Our data show frail, elderly and complex patients without emergency requirements are arriving at EDs each day and admitted to hospital because alternative, more appropriate treatment pathways are not readily available,” said Assoc Professor Craig Whitehead. 

“The CARE service provides additional options for older patients with the aim of improving patient care and experience at home or in the CARE centre. The program will also take advantage of the latest digital enhancements in health care, and provide greater connectivity and engagement with health service providers. “The service will be supported by a Command Centre that will be digitally enabled and allow collaborative triage and prioritisation between SAAS (SA Ambulance Service) and SALHN to support patient care in the most appropriate and timely place.

“One of the alternative treatment pathways through the CARE will be the Eyes on Scene outreach team who will deliver a combination of telehealth and in-home speciality care to patients, where appropriate. Delivering the care a patient needs in their home, or Residential Aged Care Facility, will help reduce SAAS transport requirements and demand on our EDs

“The CARE Centre and diagnostic hub, located at the Repat will initially operate with six treatment spaces to support older people requiring more comprehensive assessment and treatment to receive care in an alternative environment to the ED.

“We are confident this service will help to increase service options, improve the care delivered to older people and reduce queues and delays, leading to improved health outcomes for our older patients, as well diverting some of the demand on the ambulance service and our ED.” 

The CARE service will initially provide services between 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.

The service will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team, including specialist doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and administration support.