Rapid access to community care helps the elderly stay at home

Rapid Access staff at COH

The Rapid Access to Community Care Service is making a real difference to people’s lives by helping people access community-based health care services and home support services faster.
Back row, left to right: Helen Collen (Clinical Nurse), Katrina Timms (Administration Officer), and Libby Gallagher (Senior Occupational Therapist)
Front row: Elly Thompson (Clinical Nurse Consultant)

A new community-based rapid access health care service is having remarkable success supporting chronically ill elderly patients stay at home and out of hospital.

The Rapid Access to Community Care (RACC) service, which is delivered by Metro North Health, is a new service which assesses patients in the home so referrals to community or home support services can be fast tracked.

Community and Oral Health Director of Innovation and Research Mary Wheeldon said since its inception this year, the RACC service had assisted around 400 adult patients who have experienced significant deterioration in their chronic disease or illness.

“A lot of these patients, who have an average age of 81, have highly complex medical conditions which require a broad range of home care and support services, and who are at a higher risk of hospitalisation,” she said.

“Following a referral from a General Practitioner, Virtual Emergency Department or the Queensland Ambulance Service an assessment is provided via a clinician through telehealth or in the patient’s own home.

“This assessment is within 24 hours of a referral, and the RACC team will provide a comprehensive assessment of health, functional capabilities and the ongoing support needs of the patient.”

As part of the service, patients can be referred to and access services delivered through Metro North Health Community and Oral Health, Brisbane North PHN Team Care Coordination or non-Government Organisations.

For carer Robert, the support of the team has been instrumental in helping his 91-year-old elderly father stay at home safely with supports and avoid going to a hospital or an aged care facility.

“Wow! The RACC team certainly lived up to its quick service response approach,” Robert said.

“On my father’s behalf we are extremely grateful for the enormous headway you were able to achieve in only one day.”

Following a face to face assessment by an Occupational Therapist a number of key initial supports were put in place to support Robert’s father, involving the Complex Chronic Disease Team and Brisbane North PHN Team Care Coordination.

Mrs Wheeldon said these supports included allied health and geriatrician interactions, and a high-level patient package for home care and domestic services, as well as respite residential care when required.

“The RACC service is making a real difference to people’s lives by helping people access community-based health care services and home support services,” she said.

“RACC is delivered seven days a week across the Metro North Health catchment.”

So far, close to 150 GP practices in Brisbane North have engaged the service.

The majority of patients so far are rapidly accessing community-based services such as the Post Acute Care Service, Complex Chronic Disease Team or PHN Brisbane North Team Care Coordination.

Further detail about the service can be found at Rapid Access to Community Care.

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