As part of its push to ease pressure on busy emergency departments, the Marshall Liberal Government today launched an innovative pilot project in Adelaide’s south providing specialised health services in the community or in people’s own home.
Under a new partnership, Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) will work with medical staff within the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) emergency department (ED) to help identify patients who are appropriate to receive care at home.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the pilot program was part of the Marshall Liberal Government’s plan to free up hospital beds ahead of the busy winter demand period.
“Too often, we know patients are waiting in our EDs when more appropriate treatment can be provided for them closer to or in their own homes,” Minister Wade said.
“The pilot will improve patient experiences and is projected to free up at least 20 beds daily at Flinders for patients who need in-hospital care.
“This is a win-win. The patient receives more appropriate care in a more therapeutic environment and it eases pressure on our busy emergency departments.
“As part of the pilot, senior community clinicians will work with hospital teams in the ED and on the wards to identify patients who could be cared for in their own homes by skilled RDNS nurses, working in partnership with their GP, pharmacists and allied health professionals.
“By linking appropriate patients with enhanced out of hospital support, we aim to improve patient experiences, deliver care at home and ease pressure on our EDs for those who don’t need emergency care.”
Under the pilot, RDNS senior clinical nurses will be placed in the FMC’s ED, from 8am to 9pm, and on the wards, from 8am to 5pm, to help triage patients for the program.
Royal District Nursing Service Medical Advisor, Dr Helena Williams, said continuity of care with a GP has shown to deliver better patient outcomes, such as reduced hospitalisations and lower mortality.
“Where a patient is identified for the pilot, their usual GP will be contacted immediately and asked to partner with the RDNS to care for the patient at home,” Dr Williams said.
“The GP will be asked to provide a rapid medical review for the patient at the practice within 24 hours, with the RDNS arranging transport if required.
“Several linked general practices will also play a key role in the pilot to assist patients who do not have a usual GP or if the patient’s usual GP is unavailable.
“We will closely monitor the pilot to assess outcomes, particularly the experience of every patient, GP and hospital clinician involved, as well as the impact on demand for beds at the hospital.
“We believe the pilot program will provide a foundation for a potential shared acute care model between general practice, RDNS, SAAS and SALHN into the future.”
This pilot program is one of a range of initiatives underway with NGOs across SA Health to run similar hospital avoidance pilot programs.