Restorative approach a vital link between aged and acute care

A landmark collaboration between aged care provider ACH Group, Flinders University and SA Health will deliver restorative care to 120 patients and residents – and on-site training to students – from mid-2014.

In the process, it aims to get rid of the silos that exist between aged care and the acute and primary sectors.

The ViTA facility at the Repatriation General Hospital, in Adelaide’s Daw Park, will be Australia’s first purpose-built teaching aged care service with integrated teaching spaces linked to university-based teaching networks.

There are 60 long-term aged-care places that will be owned by ACH, 40 transition places owned by the South Australian government and managed by ACH, and a 20-place rehabilitation unit owned and managed by the state.

“We’ve deliberately stepped outside our comfort zone, and really tried to say, ‘What is a service going to look like in the next five, 10, 15 years?’,” ACH group manager,of program development, Jeff Fiebig, said.

“People will probably want to go through restorative, recuperation processes a lot more, [and look for] ways they can come in from home and use these services for themselves and go back home.

“We reckon that 20 per cent of people currently in residential aged care don’t need to be there, and finish up there because there aren’t suitable alternatives or restorative approaches in use.”

Restorative care is geared towards improving residents’ physical condition, resilience, outlook, and wellbeing. Residents who manage to complete the restorative care successfully are then able to return to independent living arrangements.

On top of the social good of increasing opportunities for independent living, there is a strong economic case for the restorative approach. Research has shown that transitional care reduces hospital stays by 10 to 12 days, and halves the number of residents being moved to higher-level care.

Mr Fiebig said the project was putting into place the thinking that had come out of the Productivity Commission’s Caring For Older Australians and the federal government’s ‘Living Longer, Living Better’ reforms.

At ViTA, Flinders University and ACH will run a multidisciplinary teaching space with simulation laboratories that covers one floor of the building, and there are additional teaching spaces throughout the facility adjacent to resident and patient rooms.

Flinders University is looking at providing distance-education tutorials across its network from the simulation labs at the facility, which could see regional South Australia and interstate healthcare workers and students involved.

Rooms will be fitted with smart TVs and residents will be encouraged to use Skype to keep in touch with relatives and friends.

An inter-professional learning model will be adopted. Mr Fiebig said that this approach, when used overseas in places such as Scandinavia, had been shown to add value to student, staff and patient or resident experiences.

“If you can get a nurse, a doctor, and a phsyio to look at a person being on a journey – rather than in a particular location with a particular part of the body that’s not working – the results that you get out of it are usually of long-term benefit for that person, and increase the learning of the professionals involved,” he said.

Mr Fiebig also said that ViTA will go some way towards “knocking down the silos” that separate aged care from primary and acute care.

The partners have not yet devised an eHealth strategy for ViTA, but Mr Fiebig said the goal was to have “seamless communication” between residents, GPs, hospitals and other healthcare providers.

Posted in Aged Care

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