A New South Wales health district’s urgent virtual care service is being expanded further into Sydney’s western suburbs to support residential aged care facilities and assist residents with less critical conditions access timely healthcare.
The expansion of the service, inTouch, aims to keep residents out of Emergency Departments and provide more comfortable clinical care for concerns that are less urgent – supporting an already overstretched workforce tending to residents.
The expansion will also include an increased number of referrals for aged care residents, the NSW Ambulance, and General Practitioners (GPs) as well as improved systems for assessment, care protocols, and clinical documentation.
The inTouch service provides a central point of contact for residential aged care staff, GPs, paramedics, hospital staff, and providers to collaborate via video conference to connect residents with a comprehensive virtual health assessment.
General Manager of Moran Aged Care in Kellyville, Nelly Banag, said her team used the inTouch service four times and was a useful tool to clarify medical advice.
“It is good to have another service available for our Registered Nurses to refer to and to avoid residents unnecessarily attending hospital – residents get confused when transferred to the Emergency Department and often don’t want to go.”
Born from the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, inTouch was founded in 2021 by the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and commenced the clinical coordination of aged care residents in April 2022.
After showing promising results, inTouch is going on to be a potentially long-lasting telehealth model since its birth in 2021.
“[Residential aged care facilities] across western Sydney are becoming more engaged and we are getting good feedback from their staff who report the service is simple to use and they really appreciate inTouch support and communication,” said WSLHD Chronic Care Program Nurse Unit Manager, Katia Joseph.
Similar virtual care programs have been run in other Australian States. In October, The South Australian Government offered a virtual health service with an identical motive – to reduce the number of aged care residents going to the hospital by receiving virtual treatment from a doctor while still in their aged care facility.
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