Life-changing treatment options for chronic patients
UNTIL recently, Margaret Anderson had to travel every week to receive the only treatment keeping her alive.
For the 79-year-old retired teacher and leukaemia patient, that seemingly short trip from Hervey Bay to Maryborough and back meant a two-day recovery.
That's all changed under a newly-established Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service model which delivers flexible and multi-disciplinary care to patients at home or closer to in an effort to reduce the lengths of stay and need for hospital admissions.
Mrs Anderson can now receive her platelet transfusion in Hervey Bay at the local Integrated Care Access Team (iCAT) clinic.
"I really did find travel difficult as I don't have much energy as it is, and it took the complete day away from me. That flowed over to the next day because I was tired from how the trip drained energy from me," she said
"Now it's just an hour-and-a-half appointment, which is just marvellous and I'm very grateful.
"The care I get is outstanding, it's wonderful treatment with caring and professional staff - I'm lucky to have them caring for me."
The iCAT team is using a holistic approach to providing care for patients with chronic illnesses, focusing on wellness and community management. The aim is to end the cycle of repeat emergency admissions and hospitalisations.
It's made up of work streams including nurse practitioners, nurse navigators, diabetes education, aged care Assessment, rehabilitation team, Hospital In The Home, medical, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics and speech pathology, to best support patients needing frequent sub-acute care.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson said iCAT was a great demonstration of key goals in WBHHS's strategic plan, Care Comes First… Through Patients' Eyes, including enhancing holistic health care and early intervention.
"The iCAT model is all about providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place - acknowledging that this sometimes isn't inside the walls of a hospital," Ms Jamieson said.
"By delivering proactive and agile care to patients with chronic diseases, iCAT aims to reduce overall preventable hospital admissions and also manage conditions earlier so they don't end up as acute presentations down the track.
"It's also about encouraging people to manage their conditions better at home or in the community, and to take steps to improve their own wellness.
"Given our region has higher proportions of older people and incidences of chronic illness than state averages, modern models of care like these are crucial."
WBHHS Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said the establishment of iCAT was part of a move to rethink the way health care was delivered.
"Up until now, we've probably tended to think hospital care first, community care after. But under this model, we want to be thinking of iCAT first, if appropriate, and hospital care only if it's necessary," Ms Carroll said.
"As well as having clinicians with different areas of expertise working together in a planned approach with the patient in their own home as much as possible, iCAT can identify other needs - especially if they are socially isolated.
"That may mean helping them to arrange appointments with their GP, checking that their social needs are being met, linking them with services that deliver scripts to their home or making sure they have the help they need to get their groceries.
"The end goal is to ensure a patient's needs are being met in an environment where they're most comfortable, while also maintaining our hospital capacity for more acute cases."