Boost nurse promise: AMA
THE AMA has urged the federal government to expand its practice nurse pre-election promise so nurses could also carry out home visits in aged-care facilities.The association said expanding the initiative would greatly benefit older people and could boost low numbers of GPs currently visiting aged-care homes – a figure it estimates is only 16 per cent.
The initiative currently includes a rebate for practice nurses to visit older people, such as veterans, war widows and widowers, and younger patients deemed frail, in their homes.
It would result in 800,000 home visits over four years, according to the government.
While welcoming the proposal, the AMA said it could go further by including aged-care facilities and allowing practice nurses to prepare patients for a GP visit.
GPs were often reluctant to visit care homes because of poor IT facilities and a lack of treatment rooms, it added.
AMA aged-care spokesman Dr Peter Ford said there was often just one residential aged-care nurse per 100 patients.
“If we could have our nurses prepare patients before we visit, it would really help us.
“Attending to the paperwork for care planning, making the patient accessible, weighing them... it would make the whole process more efficient.”
The Australian Practice Nurses Association (APNA) said a team care approach was a positive step in making healthcare more accessible and effective for older people.
It said that practice nurses might support on-site staff with treatment goals and provide an educative role for patients and families.
APNA president Anne Matyear said the organisation looked forward to “firm developments” in the area.
“Plans to improve access and delivery of quality general practice services to older Australians by broadening the home visit item... will contribute to improved health outcomes for this population,” she said.
|VOXPOP: And what do our critical observers say?|
Wannon (Vic) Lib 12.4%*
“This would prove very useful in our area where there’s a shortage of GPs.
“We could really utilise the services of practice nurses who could carry out medical assessments and do checks like blood pressure, blood sugars and wound management.”
“It’s one of the problems of Australian medicine… either you’re well enough to visit the doctor or you should be in hospital.
“This is a great idea... finding enough staff and the time… is something else, but just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried.”
“It sounds good. My practice nurse is about as busy as I am though, so we’d probably have to employ another nurse to benefit.
“I think you’d have to make sure you only sent nurses out to patients you know and trust though.”
*Percentage swing needed for seat to change hands.
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