Australia is a home to an ageing population. At a glance, there are one in seven people who are within the ageing population or at the age of 65 and up. In 2016, the aged population has already reached 15 per cent of the country’s population, which is already 3.7 million. And this number is expected to grow to 22 per cent or 8.7 million by 2056.

The result of the survey reveals an upcoming shortage within the healthcare sector that could affect the ageing community and its workforce in the long run.

According to the Australian Medical Association Aged Care Survey, doctors  are concerned with the similar trend on ageing  that’s happening around the world, Notably closely related to the current status of healthcare within the country: experienced nurses leave their positions after years of experience and turnover the empty spot to newcomers or recently graduated and staff inexperienced enough to handle the health issues older people face.

Many doctors echoed through the survey that there is a need for more trained and experienced nurses and health professionals. It was reported that there were times wherein only a few or no nurses are available for doctors to handle a clinical handover, or, worse, there are no nurses available for hours. Doctors said a nurse’s level of expertise is essential in having an efficient and responsible handover.

In addition, the survey revealed that there are more than one in three doctors is planning not to accept new patients, or to cut back visitations, or completely remove their regular visits at in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) within two years.

One of the reasons why doctors are decreasing their number of visits is due to the lack of access to treatment rooms in facilities and funding. More than half of the respondents said only a few facilities have treatment centres or visiting rooms or there were no treatment centres or visiting rooms at all. Sometimes or more than often, they use the remaining reporting rooms available for visitations. There are even some who answered they never use the reporting rooms.

Unfortunately, there were 35 per cent of doctors who said they’re going to lessen or completely cut their visitations, or even not going to take more patients—all within the 35 per cent of respondents. Actually, there was already a decrease in the number of medical professionals visiting RACFs, which dramatically dropped 13.55 per cent since 2015.

Even though this is the case, there are still doctors who are making more visits to RACFs, spending more time with their patients than before, which is more than the data recorded from two years ago. The visitations have increased from 7.4 to 8.6 visits per month while spending more time with patients, which were 6.5 to 6.6 per visit.

Dr Tony Bartone, Aged care GP and AMA President, said the survey results definitely raised concerns and should be taken care of already. He said through The Northern Daily Leader: “The current aged care workforce does not have the capability, capacity and connectedness to adequately meet the needs of older people.”

“Australia is facing an ageing population, with more chronic, complex medical conditions than ever before. The current aged care workforce does not have the capability, capacity and connectedness to adequately meet the needs of older people,” he added. “People living in residential aged care facilities must have timely access to medical practitioners to avoid adverse health events, unnecessary hospitalisations, and associated costs to the health system.”

Pat Sparrow, Aged and Community Services Australia CEO, said, on the other hand, it’s the responsibility of the doctors to treat patients and make sure to give them a positive outcome–this includes the ageing community as well.

“With consumers’ expectations of aged care increasing, and funding pressures continuing to bite, it is time for doctor’s to recognise aged care facilities do their best to provide quality care with limited resources,” Ms Sparrow said as quoted on Ageing Agenda.

“Australia can only develop the services frail older Australian want and need now and into the future by ensuring we have a well-funded and sustainable residential aged care sector,” she said as quoted on Ageing Agenda.

In Australia, the ageing community is fast growing and with the current issues being revealed by the recent Australian Medical Association Aged Care Survey, doctors are in need with experienced nurses and aged care professionals that will deliver person-centred support. If you’re interested in studying Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community) in Melbourne, MCIE offers Certificate III in Individual Support Courses in Melbourne that is focused on teaching students the necessary skills and how to deliver vital support and care in order to work effectively in aged care support services and home and community care.

For more information about the course, call 1300 737 004 or email during these times: Monday to Saturday at 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Melbourne City Institute of Education (MCIE) is a vibrant and innovative registered training organisation, which offers a range of courses in Melbourne to help students to fulfil their career goals.

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