Flying squad stars at aged care forum

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Most of the 110 nurses attending the NSWNA Annual Aged Care Nurses Forum last month were from the residential care sector and the majority were registered nurses (RNs).

The program included presentations from aged care nurses in clinical leadership roles, as well as sessions about aged care reform, industrial and campaigning matters, and regulation in aged care.

Presentations included falls prevention, nursing and medication management in people with delirium, better liaison between aged care and the acute sector, and quicker interventions to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.

Geriatric flying squad

Amanda Klahr

Amanda Klahr

Amanda Klahr, (pictured) a clinical nurse consultant, spoke to the forum about her award-winning Geriatric Flying Squad.The Flying Squad is a geriatric assessment and management service that Amanda developed and manages, and which won a HESTA Australian Nursing Award for innovation in nursing.

Developed at the War Memorial Hospital in Waverly Park, the service provides comprehensive geriatric assessments, multidisciplinary care in the home, and referrals to appropriate services.

The team includes a clinical nurse specialist, a doctor specialising in geriatric care, a social worker, an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist and a clinical psychologist.

Amanda says the aim of the service is to help clients to live in their own homes while maximising their quality of life.

‘Our clients are community-dwelling elders who are failing at home for some reason.

They are referred to us by a concerned GP, neighbour, personal carer or family member, the department of housing or police,’ she said. ‘The Geriatric Flying Squad is a rapid-response service for sub-acute patients. The nurses triage the clients by researching their medical records and talking to family or the GP. We are in the house in two to three days.’

Taking the load off ED

Amanda says another key benefit of the service is the reduction in presentations of older people to emergency departments.

‘Emergency departments are not the ideal environment for older people,’ she said. ‘I like to think we rescue at least one older person a week by helping to eliminate unnecessary trips to the emergency department, and in turn enable emergency departments to continue delivering immediate and acute care to the broader community.’

If a patient needs hospital care, the Flying Squad organises direct admission into War Memorial Hospital or one of two other major local hospitals.

‘No two patients follow the same pathway of care. Our criteria are very flexible, which means we are very broad in what we see and can treat.

‘It’s about fitting the service to the client’s needs. If I go to a client’s house and they need a bath, I give them a bath. Whether it’s a cognitive assessment, a leg ulcer, a complicated family situation or transport to a medical appointment, I can do it.’

The squad typically works with a client for 12 to 15 weeks, including an intensive first month before discharge. If the client encounters difficulties again, they have the option of returning to the service.