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Telehealth: What does it mean for our aged care centre residents?

Care Services Innovation & Research Health Positive Ageing
08 April 2020

Aged care centre residents at IRT Thomas Holt Kirrawee in Southern Sydney are among the first to access telehealth services made available via an app IRT Group launched with software developer – Checked In Care.

The app, called IRT Connect, is being piloted at IRT Thomas Holt Kirrawee before rolling out across all 21 of IRT Group’s aged care centres in NSW, the ACT and South East Queensland.

The IRT Connect app is one way we’re working to help support the health and wellbeing of our aged care centre residents who are at high risk from COVID-19.

Helen Lee, 78, was the first resident to use the IRT Connect app for an appointment with her GP. The appointment was facilitated by an IRT Registered Nurse and Care Co-ordinator. After the appointment Ms Lee said “It was really good, it made me feel more comfortable.”

Matilda Critchley, IRT Care Coordinator said the app was easy to use and visually update the doctor on Helen’s condition. She also said it was nice to see Helen respond positively to the new technology.

As we all do our best to follow new social distancing rules and try to find a “new normal” it’s important to stay on top of looking after ourselves. This includes maintaining our appointments with our GPs and medical specialists.

“In the past month our aged care residents, who are among the most at risk of COVID-19, have seen massive changes to their day-to-day lives,” IRT CEO Patrick Reid said.

“In the past month our aged care residents, who are at high risk from COVID-19, have seen massive changes to their day-to-day lives”

“Right now we are prioritising getting the telehealth function of the app up and running for all of our aged care centres across the country to ensure residents can connect with their doctor remotely as appropriate for their healthcare needs.”

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is a way for you to have an appointment with a medical professional wherever treatment can be safely delivered by phone or videoconferencing. During your telehealth appointment your doctor or other medical provider can assess your condition, offer advice and guide treatment as appropriate.

To help prevent older people from contracting COVID-19 the Government is urging everyone over 70 years of age to stay at home. Those living in residential aged care centres also have strict precautions and visitation limits in place to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

In an effort to reduce the need to leave your home for medical appointments the Government has expanded Medicare-subsidised telehealth services to all Australians.

This is in place from 20 March 2020 until 30 September 2020, when it will be reviewed for the need to continue in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What services are included in telehealth?

Services under the new telehealth arrangements include:

  • general practitioner services
  • some consultation services by other medical specialists
  • nurse practitioners
  • mental health treatment
  • chronic disease management

How do I access telehealth using IRT Connect?

IRT Connect is currently being piloted at IRT Thomas Holt Aged Care Centre in Kirrawee and will soon be available at all 21 IRT Aged Care Centres around the country.

We’ll work with residents of our aged care centres to schedule medical appointments as normal. However, instead of the doctor or other medical professional coming to meet with residents in person, our team of nurses and care workers will help residents have their appointment by videoconference using the new IRT Connect app.

The IRT Connect app can be used on both Android and iOS devices.

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