Community treatment teams could reduce trolley numbers

Athlone based senator, Gabrielle McFadden has called for the roll-out of specialist community geriatrics teams in order to improve the delivery of healthcare to older people and to reduce the numbers being admitted to hospital emergency departments.

Senator McFadden said there are regular admissions to Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar of elderly people presenting with various needs, such as the requirement for intravenous medications. With more community geriatrics teams, many of these elderly patients could be assessed and treated in the community, she says.

“This team would visit local nursing homes, daycare centres and community nursing units to assess and treat elderly patients without the need for hospital admission in many cases,” Senator McFadden said.

“Would it not be significantly better to bring the care to these people, rather than bringing them to the care where they have to wait long periods of time, could be exposed to additional infection, and where they are putting additional pressure on already strained emergency departments?

“Such an outreach service, provided in an integrated manner, would be a significant support to maintaining older people in their own homes and communities, where we all know that older people do best. This would not only help reduce overcrowding in hospitals such as Mullingar, but would just as importantly preserve the dignity of older people and reduce the stress on their families.”

McFadden’s call echoes a call made two weeks ago by Nurshing Homes Ireland CEO, Tadgh Daly. Daly called on the government to facilitate the discharge of elderly patients into available beds in Midlands nursing homes. Such a move would, Daly argued, free up space in emergency departments.

Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy called the record-breaking overcrowding in Irish hospitals at the beginning of this year “insane,” and pointed out that many patients - particularly the elderly - in acute hospitals could be better treated elsewhere.

Senator McFadden spoke with the Minister with Responsibility for Older People, Jim Daly, about her idea last month. The minister was very positive about the idea and stated that both the pilot programme and international research indicated that such approaches demonstrated improved outcomes.

Senator McFadden now wants to see the roll out of such approaches across the Midlands and nationwide.

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