Access to health professionals, a major concern for Australians entering aged care

Aged CareBlog
Photo of elderly woman holding hands with a healthcare proffesional

A new survey has highlighted peoples’ fears and hopes about entering aged care.

One major concern is maintaining personal choice and control over access to health providers and services. Is telehealth part of the solution?

When considering a move into residential aged care, older Australians are worried about choice and control in accessing external health providers, according to a new report.

Not-for-profit group, National Seniors Australia (NSA), has published a survey report highlighting peoples’ fears and hopes about entering residential aged care.

Almost half of the 5,166 survey respondents said stories of neglect and abuse in aged care settings had affected their planning and decisions.

One major concern to emerge from respondents was the ability to choose and control access to multidisciplinary healthcare services in residential aged care, particularly for immobile residents unable to travel to external providers.

Access to health services in aged care was also highlighted as an important issue by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. In the Royal Commission’s Final Report, telehealth was identified as “a means of avoiding the potential harm and distress for frail older people caused by travel to receive medical care”.

Telehealth solutions for aged care

Let’s take a closer look at the NSA report’s issues surrounding access to health services in aged care, and how telehealth technology provides a solution.

Issue #1 – Access to external health providers

Older Australians want choice and control when it comes to visiting health providers – particularly for those aged care residents who cannot travel to see external health providers. This includes flexible access to GPs and other health providers such as podiatrists, physiotherapists, diversional therapists, and dentists, as well as regular health and wellbeing check-ups by professionals.

The telehealth solution:

Access to timely and appropriate primary health services is a key factor in ageing well. Visionflex telehealth technology delivers clinical care to the point of need, making it an ideal solution for aged care residents with limited mobility.

The Visionflex system enables local health and aged care staff to connect with remote doctors, specialists, and allied health professionals to deliver place-based and person-centred clinical care.

The Visionflex system comprises high-speed HD video conferencing; easy-to-use hardware; and a suite of approved medical devices to perform COVID-safe remote patient examinations.

Visionflex technology enhances treatment and management of complex and chronic health conditions by making primary health services available anywhere, anytime, while a ‘virtual-first’ approach to healthcare helps reduce rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations.

Issue #2 – Prompt wound care

Older Australians want prompt and appropriate assessment and treatment of patient wounds in residential aged care facilities.

The telehealth solution:

The Visionflex system is used in major New South Wales public hospitals to connect patients and specialist physicians via video conferencing to perform remote wound assessments. This method of care removes the need for stressful and costly patient transfers between locations and greatly improves waiting times to access specialists.

Using the GEIS® General Examination Camera HD and the ProEX Telehealth Hub, patient assessments and diagnoses can be performed remotely via telehealth.

The GEIS® camera comes with a wound measurement stick for consistent imaging of wounds from a distance of 20cm, with a marked 40mm end for easy measuring.

Patient data and media can be saved against the patient record as a reference for future wound assessments.

Photo of Visionflex ProEX Telehealth Hub with GEIS camera with dermatology hood and tongue depressor stick attachments
Pictured: ProEX Telehealth Hub (left) with GEIS® Camera connected next to GEIS® cameras with (from top) LED illumination, dermatology hood and tongue depressor attachments.

Issue #3 – Access to mental health services

Older Australians want improved access to mental health professionals on a regular and ongoing basis to support the emotional and psychological stress involved in transitioning into aged care.

The telehealth solution:

According to research out of America, telehealth is just as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy, and retention rates are higher.

Telehealth improves healthcare access and has been found to be effective in treating PTSD, depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorder.
In Australia, telehealth has emerged as an important tool to deliver much-needed mental health services to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 2021 Productivity Commission Inquiry Report on Mental Health supported online treatment to provide a convenient, clinically effective, low-cost way for individuals to manage mental illness.

The Australian Psychology Society is just as supportive of telehealth: Over the course of the pandemic, 94 percent of psychologists have adopted telehealth; and the accessibility and flexibility it offers Australians has been invaluable.

Issue #4 – Collaborative care

Older Australians want aged care residents and their families involved in discussions regarding medical aspects of care planning.

The telehealth solution:

During a telehealth consultation using the Vision Telehealth Platform, any number of participants can enter a video call.

The integrated video conferencing software in the ProEX Telehealth Hub allows local health professionals to connect with colleagues and specialists over large distances and share saved images and data and participate in live video consultations with the patient who can choose to have family members present.

This unique function fosters collaboration between patients, family members and health professionals, for informed and consensual medical diagnoses and healthcare planning.

photo of Visionflex digital products
The Vision Telehealth Platform has five key modules: (from left) MultiVu, RoomVu, TrueSteth, Telestrations and ExamVu.

Issue #5 – Culturally and linguistically appropriate care

Older Australians want access to multi-lingual and appropriate health services that reflect the cultural diversity of aged care residents.

The telehealth solution:

Australian society is culturally and linguistically diverse with almost one-third of the country’s population born overseas.

The Visionflex telehealth system provides a solution that supports this diversity: Because the Vision video conferencing platform allows any number of participants in a consultation, patients can be supported by family and community members, and they can participate in remote consultations translated into language, at a time and place that suits them. 

With Visionflex, patients also have the flexibility to choose which physician they connect with remotely, if they require the services of a bilingual health professional.

National Seniors Australia logo

Read the National Seniors Australia report: As close to home as possible – Older Australians’ hopes and fears for aged care.

Visionflex – telehealth solutions for aged care.