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New program to better serve frail, older patients

5 December 2019

Toowoomba Hospital Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention team from left Kerrie-Lee O’Dempsey, Heather Bruggemann, Marj Crawford, Natalie Profke, Dr Saima Ali, Will Sanson, Donna Fitch, Belinda Redman, Torren Powell and Dr Lilantha Basnayke.

Toowoomba Hospital has unveiled a new program to help frail, older people access the right health care, in the right place and time.

The new Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) program is aimed at providing appropriate, specialised care to frail, older people when they present to the emergency department.

“When treating and caring for frail, older people, there are complexities and specialised care that need to be considered and provided,” Toowoomba Hospital’s Nursing Director for Medical Services Karen Gordon said.

“This program ensures that frail, older people are getting the most appropriate care, in the right place and at the right time. A hospital admission may not be the best course of action for every patient, especially if they are frail or older.

“Sadly, we know that sometimes when frail, older people are admitted to any hospital, it can lead to poorer health outcomes, with an increased risk of developing acute delirium and other complications as a result of reduced mobility.”

Under this program, when a person aged over 75 years (or 55 years if they have identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander) presents to the ED they will be assessed by staff members of the GEDI team which may include doctors, clinical nurses, allied health professionals or a pharmacist.

This multidisciplinary team then determines if the person needs to be discharged with support back to their place of residence, admitted to hospital or, if they require more assessments, taken to the hospital’s GEDI short-stay unit.

“We’ve set aside an area in the hospital where our clinicians can determine the best course of action for each patient who is under the care of the GEDI team,” Ms Gordon said. “This area is away from the busy emergency department and is more suited to treating frail, older people.”

The new GEDI program is part of the hospital’s Acute Geriatric Evaluation Service (AGES) and supports the existing Residential Aged Care Facility Support Service (RaSS). The AGES team has also been strengthened with the appointment of more specialised, senior nurses and clinicians.

“This new program, as well as the appointment of new staff, allows us greater capacity to provide specialist care and treatment not just for people in residential aged-care facilities but also frail, older people living in their own homes,” Ms Gordon said.

The work has been funded under the State Government’s Frail Older Persons Initiative.

Last updated: 5 December 2019