The Australian government has introduced stage one of a trial of their new Health Care Homes initiative, a reform of the primary health care system. A Health Care Home is a home base, which will be a General Practice or Aboriginal Medical Service, whose role will be to coordinate the comprehensive care required for patients with chronic and complex conditions on an ongoing basis. Patients will be assessed for eligibility and can voluntarily enrol with a Health Care Home where a tailored care plan is developed and implemented by a team of health care providers. As many aged people fall into this category I am hopeful it will assist them to be able to manage their conditions at home for a longer period, before they need the level of support provided in an Aged Care Facility. This appears to be the direction the Government is taking in general, providing supports to assist the elderly to remain at home as long as possible. As an Aged Care Placement Specialist I love to support people to find the best aged care accommodation but only when they really cannot be supported in their own home any longer.
Ten regions have been selected for stage one. In Melbourne the region is South Eastern Melbourne. Other regions in Australia are Perth North, Northern Territory, Adelaide, Country South Australia, Brisbane North, Western Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains, Hunter, New England and Central Coast, and Tasmania. GP Practices and Aboriginal Medical Services in these regions are being invited to apply to join this new model.
Patients will be able to access Health Care Home services in some regions from 1st July 2017 with a roll out of stage one sites until 30 June 2019. Evaluation of Health Care Homes in these regions will then assist in the refinement of the new model and its suitability for broader rollout. Health Care Homes will be paid regular periodic payments by the Government to provide the care related to a patient’s chronic and complex condition, rather than the current system of Medicare payments for each visit, in the hope this will enable a more flexible and innovative approach to patient care.
AMA President Dr. Michael Bannon supports this new model, “Under the model, patients have a continuing relationship with a particular GP to coordinate the care delivered by all members of the patient’s care team. We know from overseas experience that the model has the potential to support better patient outcomes, and can help to keep patients out of hospital. It aims to provide more support for patients, particularly those with more serious chronic and complex conditions” he stated on 24th August 2016 on the AMA website.