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New service to enhance the care of frail and elderly patients in Wide Bay

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service has launched a new seven-day-a-week specialist service to enhance care for people aged 70 and older who present to its emergency departments.

Following a successful trial on the Sunshine Coast, WBHHS will now offer the Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) service at Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Bundaberg hospitals.

As part of the most recent Queensland Budget, WBHHS will receive annual recurrent funding of almost $1.5 million to provide the crucial new service.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson said the ageing local population and rising number of emergency presentations meant it was a priority to support initiatives that improved the care of frail and elderly patients.

“GEDI is a great program that will improve how our health service manages the care of frail and elderly patients who present to our emergency departments,” Ms Jamieson said.

“Wide Bay has a higher proportion of people aged over 65 than the statewide average – which is only projected to grow in the decades to come – and this is why our health service has to respond to the needs of this cohort of patients.

“The GEDI model provides an early assessment of patient needs, which helps to streamline and improve supported care through the emergency department and on to the most appropriate place for their care.

“That could mean being admitted as an inpatient, providing an outpatient referral or providing support and referral to other services in the community.

“It’s a real example of WBHHS putting into practice its Strategic Plan Care Comes First… Through Patients’ Eyes, because it places an emphasis on the specific needs of older patients when they visit our hospitals.”

WBHHS Acting Chief Executive Robyn Bradley said GEDI’s funding covered the employment of multidisciplinary teams who would work with older patients presenting to local emergency departments.

“The GEDI clinicians are able to ensure older people are not inappropriately admitted to hospital, while streamlining the process to make sure they get the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” Ms Bradley said.

“It’s a model that ensures elderly patients are assessed appropriately and have the opportunity to be fast-tracked onto the best care pathway for them as individuals.

“An additional $280,000 in equipment funding has been used to purchase equipment to be used by the patients.”

During the 12-month Sunshine Coast trial from September 2015 to August 2016, data was collected on patients who were assessed via GEDI, with measures including emergency length of stay, hospital length of stay and re-presentation to hospital within 28 days for the same condition.

When compared with data from the pre-GEDI period, the results indicated older patients under the new model had significantly benefited through reductions in emergency length of stay and being able to safely return home at an earlier stage in their patient journey.

There was also no significant increase in returning to the emergency department with the same medical issue within the next 28 days.

Last updated: 8 August 2019