Wednesday, February 21, 2024

15 new specialised dementia beds to open

SA Health has partnered with an aged care provider to create 15 new specialised dementia beds for patients unnecessarily stuck in hospital waiting for an aged care bed.

The Government says the partnership with HammondCare frees up hospital beds by bringing online 15 new additional care awaiting placement beds at The Repat for patients living with dementia, who would otherwise remain in hospital awaiting discharge.

“People with dementia shouldn’t be stuck in hospital longer than they need to waiting for an aged care bed. It’s not good for them and it’s not good for the health system,” said Minister, Chris Picton.

“These new dementia beds at The Repat will bridge the gap from hospital to longer-term care in the community.

“They will support our patients living with dementia to get the right care in a more suitable environment, while freeing up hospital beds for others.”

The partnership comes as new Productivity Commission data shows South Australians face the longest delays into aged care in the country putting pressure on hospitals, and a new project commences to rapidly address ways to help unblock this problem.

“We are doing everything we can to improve hospital flow and create more capacity which is key to helping reduce ramping,” said Mr Picton.

“We have committed to building an additional 550 beds across our health system to improve patient flow and reduce bed-block which contributes to ramping.

“This year alone, 150 new inpatient beds will open at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre, the Repat and Lyell McEwin Hospital.”

Hospitals across Adelaide now have access to these 15 new beds – located within HammondCare’s recently opened care home at the Repat Health Precinct.

A recent audit of bed capacity across the local health networks found approximately 45 hospital inpatients were ready for discharge at any one time but remained in hospital waiting for a suitable dementia specific bed in a residential aged care home.

HammondCare specialises in providing care for people with differing levels of dementia. However, patients occupying these new beds will remain under the care of the referring local health networks until a longer-term placement is secured.

“As part of serving people living with dementia in South Australia, it’s our privilege to provide these 15 care awaiting placement places. People with dementia are best supported in environments that are home-like and familiar, and often find hospital environments particularly uncomfortable,” said HammondCare Head of Service Development, Samantha Arnold.

“Our team looks forward to providing relationship-based dementia care for these residents in our cottages featuring a domestic kitchen, access to outdoors, dementia design features supporting independence, and a small caring team.

“At the same time, we’re pleased this makes room for patients needing acute care in hospital. It’s a win-win for both groups.”

The Repat provides support and health care for older people. Further construction works are already well underway at the Repat Health Precinct, including a new purpose built 26-bed Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Unit, as well as a major refurbishment to deliver six beds for the Complex and Restorative (CARE) Service. The CARE Service will provide same day hospital-level care for older people, helping to avoid the emergency department.

These new 15 dementia beds will help free up hospital capacity, as latest data shows ambulances spent 3,960 hours ramped in January, a 10% increase from December’s 3,595 hours but 8% down on November’s 4,285 hours.

In January, 46% of patients were transferred from the ambulance into hospital within 30 minutes – meaning they weren’t ramped – compared to only 41% in January 2022.

The latest Productivity Commission Report on Government Services 2022-2023 released this week shows South Australians are waiting the longest in the nation to enter aged care beds and receive home care aged care packages.

South Australians wait the longest in the country for receiving a home care package following Aged Care Assessment Team approval, with the 90th percentile at 193 days.

The state’s median wait time for entry into an aged care bed following ACAT approval is the highest in the nation at 252 days.

This has an inevitable impact on patients stuck in public hospital beds waiting for aged care beds, contributing to bed blockages.

The rate of hospital patient days used by eligible South Australians stuck waiting for aged care beds was 19.7 bed days in 2021-22 – the second highest rate in Australia and an increase from 18.1 bed days the year prior.

“Often what delays discharge from hospital is a lack of available long-term dementia care options,” said Department for Health and Wellbeing Chief Executive Officer, Dr Robyn Lawrence.

“Our goal always is to ensure our patients are in the right facilities for them. No one wants to be in hospital – especially when they do not need to be.

“These new beds will provide care in a much more comfortable environment where patients can recover further and give more time to find the right, long-term care. This partnership with HammondCare will also support us to provide more capacity across our hospitals.”

Transfer of Care data – including a hospital-by-hospital breakdown – can be found here.

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