Aged Care Medical Workforce is Ageing

10 08 2012

An AMA survey of medical professionals working in the aged care sector has found that the aged care medical workforce is ageing and that more than 15 per cent are intending to reduce their aged care visits over the next two years.

The survey of general practitioners, consultant physicians, geriatricians, emergency physicians, psychiatrists, and palliative medicine specialists was conducted in July 2012 and received 845 responses.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the survey shows clearly that the older medical workforce is providing the majority of medical services to older Australians in residential aged care.

“Our survey shows that the medical workforce in aged care is ageing and individuals are starting to cut back their visits, and that younger health professionals are not moving in to fill the gap,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Current aged care policies ignore medical workforce issues and medical workforce planning.

“This survey shows that governments and aged care advocates must urgently embrace policies to build and support medical care in aged care. If not, older Australians who lack mobility and cannot travel to the surgery are going to have less and less access to quality medical care in coming years,” Dr Hambleton said.

Key findings of the 2012 AMA aged care survey include:

· of the medical practitioners providing medical care to older Australians in residential aged care facilities, just 8 per cent are under 40 years of age;

· the average number of visits by medical practitioners per month to residential aged care facilities is 6.14 – down from 8.36 visits per month in 2008;

· the average number of patients seen by medical practitioners per visit to residential aged care facilities is 5.36 – up from 4.77 patients in 2008;

· the average time spent with each patient is 15.71 minutes– up from 13.12 minutes in 2008;

· the average time spent for each patient managing the care of the patient with the facility and/or family is 13.67 minutes – up from 13.20 minutes in 2008;

· 31.39 per cent of survey respondents have decreased their visits to residential aged care facilities over the last five years – up from 21.64 per cent in 2008;

· 16.03 per cent of survey respondents will increase their visits to residential aged care facilities over the next two years – up from 15.95 per cent in 2008; and

· 95.27 per cent of survey respondents identified the need to improve the availability of suitably trained and experienced nurses and other health professionals in residential aged care to support the medical workforce.