NSW latest illawarra specialist aged care outreach service expanded amid promising results

​All 25 Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF) in the Illawarra now have access to a dedicated outreach service, which is a NSW Government initiative to prevent unnecessary trips to the emergency department (ED) for elderly and vulnerable patients. 

Previously, RACFs have had no other alternative than to call an ambulance for transfer to an ED when residents have needed a higher level of assessment or care.

Following the initial roll out in July 2023, the Aged Care Outreach Service (ACOS) has seen 981 residents, with 80 per cent able to be managed in their home without needing to visit an ED or hospital care. 

The ACOS involves a team of specialist nurses, doctors and other clinicians who provide in-home medical care to residents. They can treat a range of conditions including urinary tract infections, chest infections, acute delirium, minor injuries, dehydration, and wound management. 

If a resident’s condition cannot be managed by the ACOS team, they can still be transferred to an ED. The program also facilitates direct admissions to hospital wards for people requiring a higher level of care, which means older patients avoid extended waits in the ED.

The ACOS team has conducted more than 40 education sessions for RACF staff, helping them enhance the care they provide.

Quotes attributable to Health Minister Ryan Park:

“This service, run by Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, is making an extraordinary difference in supporting aged care facilities to assess, treat and manage residents who are unwell.

“In the first month, 117 residents were engaged by the service, with 93 per cent safely treated in their home without the need to go to hospital.

“This is an exceptional example of how a relatively simple concept can have major benefits. Keeping people out of hospital when they don’t need to be there is not only important for the patient and their family, but also contributes to reducing wait times for emergency care services.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Wollongong Paul Scully:

“The Aged Care Outreach Service has been incredible for the hundreds of residents who have received care in the comfort of their home.

“This is a fantastic initiative is as it gives aged care residents across the Illawarra easier access to care while at the same time easing pressure on our busy emergency departments.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson:

“Bringing healthcare directly to aged care residents in the comfort of their home is a much welcome alternative to potentially stressful trips to hospital.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the doctors, nurses and allied health staff within the Aged Care Outreach Service who have already made a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of Illawarra aged care residents and their families.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Heathcote Maryanne Stuart:

“I’m really pleased this service is having significant benefits for care facilities and their residents across the Illawarra.

“I’m proud the NSW Government is providing elderly and vulnerable residents the care and dignity they deserve through this service.”

Quotes attributable to Sarah Kaine MLC:

“This is a great result – not only for aged care residents and their families, but also for staff and patients working in our busy emergency departments.

“The NSW Government is committed to increasing access to healthcare by investing in services just like this one and I’m thrilled to know how many people in our community have benefited already.”    ​

/Public Release. View in full here.