Residents set to lose critical physiotherapy treatment due to aged care job losses

Aged care physiotherapy

APA National President Scott Willis said despite the Government saying that older people will receive physiotherapy under its new residential aged care funding, it hasn’t addressed the issue and has repeatedly failed to explain both how and how much.

“The Government is well versed in the APA’s position and both APA National Gerontology Chair Joanna Tan and I have put it directly to them a number of times. We have asked the Government and the Department of Health for details of how older people will still receive physiotherapy care under their reforms, but we are still none the wiser.”

Mr Willis continued, “It is hard to believe that despite the Royal Commission’s findings that specific arrangements must be made to give older people access to physiotherapy, this hasn’t been accepted by the Government. Why not?”

Currently 63% of older people in residential aged care receive physiotherapy treatment to manage pain and most (53%) see their physiotherapist four times per week.

Mr Willis said that while the APA has always argued that the current system does not provide the best possible care, the new system is going backwards, as older people may lose their pain management under aged care reforms and not receive other therapy they require.

“The Government has said it will monitor the care provided and introduce regulation in the future if required, but the lack of clarity about funding for critical health care such as physiotherapy in the aged care sector is causing enormous uncertainty.”

“Waiting another two or more years to address the issues we are highlighting now, will only see the health of older people at risk and unfortunately physiotherapy jobs lost,” he said.

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  1. .
    “…introduce regulation in the future if required…” This is the critical phrase if I ever heard one and usually relies on the faulty memories of most people of what was said and what was promised for those in long term care facilities in Australia or frankly anywhere else in the world (with a few exceptions).

    One would think from reading this article that the pandemic that is still raging on had no effect whatsoever on those in charge of determining the worthwhile investment into older persons’ care. It is as if nothing had changed and I think that is the intent sometimes when politicians introduce new changes to existing programs and don’t provide the funding for the necessary services and programs that older persons depend on when in facilities that are not real homes.
    I am not sure what the percentage of older persons in LTC facilities compared to the percentage of older persons maintaining themselves in their homes is but in my province in Canada, we suffer from the vagueness of what is included in LTC facilities as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, or any other resources needed there. The vagueness and blinders that they put on to cover up the fact that little services and programs are offered to those who are “past their prime” an ageist term that still exists today in the 21 century as if we can not shake loose of “isms’ aimed to denigrate certain members of society in which we all live. It is a carry over from 50 years ago.
    In my province OTs (occupational therapists) are mandated to work in LTC facilities in order to likely not suffer lawsuits from families, more than to offer mobility aids to older persons there. That is the only therapist that is mandated to be there. The rest appear sometimes with a total of 4 hours a week to provide physiotherapy to residents in need but the amount of hours allocated (4) are spent 2 hours returning calls and 2 hours left to do ‘something for someone”.
    It is no wonder why residents returned to LTC facilities are not walked as the orthopedic surgeon who invested their skills and time to repair the person and expects the “prescribed exercise routine to be carried out. But most often those people are returned to a wheelchair instead for the rest of their stay – its easier and cheaper and few complain about it.
    Since seniors will be a large percentage of the population who votes one would think it is this current growing crop of seniors out to unite their voices together and frankly call out all governments who ignore the necessary care services and programs for inmates in LTC facilities – it is unlikely that the owners of thos facilities will do anything so it is up to us to do it.


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