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This was a scaling project supported by the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.

Lead organisations

  • Bendigo Health
  • Goulburn Valley Health

Partners

  • Hume Rural Health Alliance
  • Loddon Mallee Shared Services
  • NCN Health
  • Murray Primary Health Network

Summary

The Geri-Connect model – first implemented in 2017 by Bendigo Health – uses telehealth technology to provide a sustainable, specialist geriatrician service to older people living in residential aged care facilities, improving their access to specialised care.

From 2019–20, the model was expanded to the Hume region of Victoria, with comprehensive geriatric assessments offered via telehealth to eight public residential aged care facilities in the area.

Trial outcomes

The 2017 Geri-Connect project aimed to improve access to specialised care for older people living in residential aged care facilities in the Loddon Mallee region. 

Results from the trial included:

  • delivery of 237 consultations in nine months
  • an 83 per cent reduction in response times for Aged Care Assessment Service assessments for eligible inpatients awaiting permanent placement in a residential aged care facility
  • recommendations to reduce polypharmacy for 89 per cent of patients seen
  • completion of comprehensive geriatric assessments for 30 per cent of residents at participating residential aged care facilities compared with a 5 per cent completion rate prior to the project
  • positive feedback from clients, families and carers, as well as from clinicians.

Aims

  • Provide more timely access to geriatric services to residents in aged care facilities
  • Increase the number of older people receiving geriatric consultations at aged care facilities
  • Help regional general practitioners (GPs) provide supported care to older patients living in aged care facilities
  • Reduce polypharmacy
  • Decrease rates of reduced mobility and falls
  • Encourage greater use of allied health services 

Outcomes

The Geri-Connect scaling project was impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which caused delays. 

The following outcomes were achieved within the original project timeline:

  • the Geri-Connect model was established at Goulburn Valley Health
  • relationships were fostered between residential aged care facilities and GPs to create an initial flow of assessment referrals to the service
  • the number of patients with polypharmacy (i.e. taking more than nine medications) appeared to be declining.

Update

November 2020 – The Geri-Connect model is now well established at Goulburn Valley Health. Assessments have been completed for residents of four residential aged care facilities, with several more looking to actively commence referrals by the end of 2020. A full evaluation is currently underway.

Page last updated: 15 Dec 2020

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