Providing geriatric medicine and reducing stress
Caulfield Hospital’s geriatricians have expanded their service to older people in residential aged care facilities who may experience distress and discomfort associated with travelling to appointments.
This is part of Alfred Health’s Care of Older People Service, and provides frail older people with an opportunity for a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment and follow-up consultations via telehealth.
“Everyone in a residential aged care facility should have the opportunity to be reviewed by a geriatrician to improve their quality of life,” said Associate Professor Peter Hunter, who’s head of the service and Director of Aged Care. “Alfred Health’s point of difference is that our staff are experts in geriatric medicine and are part of a larger health network of connected interdisciplinary care.”
Joyce Goddard has lived at Abberfield Aged Care Facility in Sandringham for three years and finds it difficult to travel to Caulfield Hospital for her appointments.
“It’s an effort for me and time consuming for Jill or Linda (daughters) because it really needs two people to help me in and out of a car – someone who knows how to lift properly,” said the 90-year-old former nurse and volunteer. “And sitting and waiting in a wheel chair isn’t comfortable.”
A geriatrician from Caulfield Hospital recently visited Joyce at the aged care facility and this was followed by consultations via telehealth.
A key benefit of using telehealth enables GPs to participate in these consultations and work with specialists to help improve the care for frail older adults like Joyce.
“I wouldn’t have a clue about the technology but it’s marvellous, it blows me away what they can do, it’s unreal, I couldn’t fault it,” said Joyce.
Daughter Jill Blyton is happy her mum doesn’t have to travel and has had a positive experience with the geriatricians.
“They don’t rush mum, they give her time to answer, and they ask if she has any questions,” said Jill.
Joyce is also reassured that her GP Dr Henry Konopnicki can be present for her consultations with the geriatricians.
“It’s the best, having Dr Henry here with me as well,” said Joyce, a mother of three, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of three.
Dr Konopnicki is based at Abberfield Aged Care Facility and says the telehealth technology enhances his practice.
“There are some misconceptions that geriatricians are trying to take over from GPs, but from my point of view it’s a terrific collaboration,” said Dr Konopnicki. “It gives me an opportunity to optimise the care for residents like Joyce and make sure we aren’t overlooking anything.”
Dr Konopnicki said the initial face-to-face assessment by a geriatrician is crucial to building relationships, and he’s happy to use telehealth for further consultations.
“I can share documentation on the screen. Today we were talking about Joyce’s weight so we were able to share results; the technology is very simple to use,” said Dr Konopnicki. “It’s educational and gives me an opportunity to learn, and the geriatrician learns – it’s two-way.”
Dr Konopnicki said his care is based on quality of life and making a positive impact on people’s lives.
“There’s many ways to look at things, there are some things that I instigate, and it’s good to collaborate with the geriatrician to reinforce my decision – it gives me confidence.”