Aged care medical workforce is ageing

The aged care medical workforce is ageing and more than 15 per cent are intending to reduce their aged care visits over the next two years.

 

The findings of the AMA survey of general practitioners, consultant physicians, geriatricians, emergency physicians, psychiatrists, and palliative medicine specialists was conducted in July 2012 and received 845 responses.

 

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the survey shows clearly that the older medical workforce is providing the majority of medical services to older Australians in residential aged care.

 

“Our survey shows that the medical workforce in aged care is ageing and individuals are starting to cut back their visits, and that younger health professionals are not moving in to fill the gap,” Dr Hambleton said.

 

“Current aged care policies ignore medical workforce issues and medical workforce planning.

 

“This survey shows that governments and aged care advocates must urgently embrace policies to build and support medical care in aged care. If not, older Australians who lack mobility and cannot travel to the surgery are going to have less and less access to quality medical care in coming years,” Dr Hambleton said.

 

Key findings of the 2012 AMA aged care survey include:

  1. of the medical practitioners providing medical care to older Australians in residential aged care facilities, just 8 per cent are under 40 years of age

  2. the average number of visits by medical practitioners per month to residential aged care facilities is 6.14 – down from 8.36 visits per month in 2008

  3. the average number of patients seen by medical practitioners per visit to residential aged care facilities is 5.36 – up from 4.77 patients in 2008

  4. the average time spent with each patient is 15.71 minutes– up from 13.12 minutes in 2008

  5. the average time spent for each patient managing the care of the patient with the facility and/or family is 13.67 minutes – up from 13.20 minutes in 2008

  6. 31.39 per cent of survey respondents have decreased their visits to residential aged care facilities over the last five years – up from 21.64 per cent in 2008

  7. 16.03 per cent of survey respondents will increase their visits to residential aged care facilities over the next two years – up from 15.95 per cent in 2008

  8. 95.27 per cent of survey respondents identified the need to improve the availability of suitably trained and experienced nurses and other health professionals in residential aged care to support the medical workforce.

The AMA has also developed a new Position Statement on Access to Medical Care for Older Australians, which highlights medical care as an integral component of comprehensive quality aged care.

 

Dr Hambleton said that the Government’s recent Living Longer Living Better aged care package failed to give any prominence to medical care.

 

“The aged care sector must be able to provide the level and quality of medical, nursing and allied health services required to meet the needs of the ageing population,” Dr Hambleton said.

 

“Without appropriate policy and funding measures, there is a very real risk that older Australians will not be able to get the medical care they need when they need it.

 

The AMA Position Statement on Access to Medical Care for Older Australians is at http://ama.com.au/node/8119

 

10 August 2012.