Co-Ordinated Health Care For Chronic Illness Is Good News

Leading senior’s advocate COTA Australia today welcomed changes to the health care system that will better co-ordinate health care for older Australians suffering from chronic conditions and poor health, keeping them out of hospital and in their own homes.

COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, said the Government’s Healthier Medicare Package would provide older Australians with health care packages tailored to their needs and co-ordinated by a trusted Health Care Home of their choice.

“Health co-morbidities to tend to increase as we age – with people over 65 seeing a GP twice as often on average than younger people,” Mr Yates said,

“Some 78 per cent of older Australians suffer from age related chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, deteriorating hearing or eyesight, dementia and other acute conditions – 70 per cent of people over 85 live with more than five chronic diseases at the same time.

“Not only is it expensive, it’s stressful and exhausting finding specialists, filling prescriptions, visiting GPs and attending outpatient facilities, when each condition is too often treated in isolation from the others, with little co-ordination or communication between health providers.

“It also means that too often these chronic conditions can escalate quickly, resulting in the need for acute care and the trauma of hospitalisation that could have been avoided with better treatment earlier, and more pro-active primary care.

“These changes will provide a team approach to treating patients, co-ordinated through a Health Care Home, coordinating all the medical, allied health, out of hospital services and aged care in a single health care plan.”

Mr Yates welcomed measures that would give older people better out-of-hours access to advice, remote health monitoring and medication management technology, and access to their Health Care Home by phone, email or even video conferencing, without them having to sit for many hours in waiting rooms.

He also welcomed options for patients to choose a preferred clinician or “Home”, who is aware of their problems and wishes, to be responsible for their care co-ordination.

“COTA Australia notes that the new model hasn’t yet been costed and strongly encourages the Government to ensure that resources are made available to support this critical shift in health service delivery,” Mr Yates said.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.