AGED CARE CRISIS: GPs forced to play 'hide and seek'
"HIDE and seek"
That was how a lead researcher described the difficulty for GPs to access patients, carers and medical information within the aged care sector for a new study out of the University of Wollongong.
Dr Russell Pearson, a practising GP, headlined the Australian General Practitioner Attitudes to Residential Aged Care Facility Visiting, a study into attitudes towards care-giving inside aged care facilities and the growing threat which compromises "the ongoing care of chronically ill RACF (Resident Aged Care Facility) residents".
And worryingly, the study found the relationship between GPs and aged care facilities was in steep decline.
"The GPs involved in the study were enormously frustrated with their visits to nursing homes, which often revealed a game of hide and seek," Dr Pearson told the Illawarra Mercury.
"They'd arrive and couldn't find the nurse who knew about the patient, or they couldn't find the patient, or they couldn't find the patient's notes or medical charts.
"Everything was difficult and they had a lot of seemingly unnecessary paperwork to do."
However, Dr Pearson said the majority of GPs who took part in the study enjoyed their work but several mitigating factors, such as education, age and remuneration, were beginning to weigh heavily on their shoulders.
But with the number of Australians living in aged care expected to grow from to 700,000 by 2050, Dr Pearson said the problem could exacerbate if left unchecked.
The Australian General Practitioner Attitudes to Residential Aged Care Facility Visiting is published in the current issue of Health & Social Care in the Community.