Home | Industry & Reform | SA “geriatric flying squads” to move hospitalised seniors into aged care
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler (right) and SA Health Minister Chris Picton (centre) announced the flying squad to help ease the pressures on hospitals. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dean Martin

SA “geriatric flying squads” to move hospitalised seniors into aged care

Plans for "geriatric flying squads" are part of the federal and state government's $56.3m package to try and open the aged care bed blockage in South Australian hospitals.

The package includes $42.9m for the "flying squads" made up of medical and other SA Health staff to help hospital the transition older patients into residential aged care.

Currently, 190 older South Australians are in hospitals when they should be in an aged care facility.

SA Health Minister Chris Picton said the flying squads would help the SA aged care homes, which are already "under the pump".

"This will be doctors, nurses, and staff from SA Health going out to aged care providers to help them with the transition of people into aged care, particularly those people with complex needs to make sure that their better supported and aged care providers are more willing to accept them and get them out of hospital," Mr Picton said.

"In addition, making sure that they're less likely to come back to hospitals afterwards and bounce back into hospital, which is not only bad for the broader healthcare system, but it's actually a poor outcome for those people themselves to be in and out of hospital all the time.

"We're confident that this is what's needed to help address those 190 people who do need to be somewhere else and free up those beds for other people who need that care."

SA has the highest proportion of older people in Australia, with more than 630,500 people over the age of 50, which is 37 per cent of the total SA population.

Ninety-five per cent of people over 65 live at home independently, with only one in four over 85 accessing aged care accommodation.

The $56.3m package also includes $4.6m to extend the Acute to Residential Care Transition Program, $2.1m to help older people recover from a hospital stay with short-term care through the Transition Care Programme, and $1.8m to extend the Comprehensive Palliative Care in Aged Care program.

Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler complimented the flying squad, especially as "traditionally it's been a 'them and us' approach" between federal and state governments.

"Even though aged care facilities are strictly a Commonwealth responsibility, where an older person takes a fall or becomes ill in an aged care facility, the state system [in SA] has been reaching into aged care facilities to see whether they can be cared for on-site," Mr Butler said.

"Our broader investments in strengthening Medicare will support older South Australians to get better care outside of the hospital system, further reducing the load on local hospitals and freeing up beds for other patients."

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