Aged Care Survey reveals trends in practitioner visits and patient contact
The latest AMA Aged Care Survey Report has been released, with results providing insight into the perceptions and priorities of members in providing medical care in the aged care sector.
Conducted in late 2017, the survey sought feedback from AMA members, and was released in July this year.
Because older Australians living in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) require a high level of medical care, many of the questions focused on medical access in RACFs.
In 2017, there was significant aged care system review by the Federal Government and consultation with stakeholders regarding the quality of care older Australians receive – therefore, quality of care questions were included, in order for the AMA to accurately understand members’ current views.
This survey revealed that, since the last survey in 2015, medical practitioner visits have increased by 1.2 visits (from 7.4 to 8.6 visits per month) while the average number of patients seen per visit has remained relatively similar, with only a slight increase of 0.1 patients per visit (from 6.5 to 6.6 patients per visit).
However, the average reported non-contact time on each patient seen (13 minutes 35 seconds) has decreased since 2015 (17 minutes 30 seconds), although is similar to the 2012 average (13 minutes 54 seconds).
Although non-contact time has decreased, several members remain concerned about non-contact time demands, commenting on the considerable amount of paperwork involved, responding to faxes and phone calls, and discussing issues with RACF staff or relatives of residents.
This has been a common concern for respondents of all the surveys and was listed as a major influence to decrease visits to, or never visit, RACFs.
All surveys indicate an increased demand for RACF-visiting medical practitioners. The average reported time spent on each patient has increased since previous years.
“The 2017 survey saw an average of 17 minutes 7 seconds spent on each patient, while in 2012 and 2015 the average was 16 minutes 6 seconds and 16 minutes 12 seconds, respectively,” the report states.
“This indicates that, although the number of patients seen per visit remains the same, medical practitioners are making more visits to RACFs and spending slightly more time with each patient.”
Respondents aged 41-60 remain the largest age group reporting they visit RACFs (46.94 per cent) and contributing to the highest proportion of monthly visits (49.32 per cent).
Respondents aged 61 and over contribute to 47.11 per cent of monthly RACF visits, and those aged 40 or under contribute to only 3.57 per cent.
“This raises concerns that as the older age groups move into retirement, there could be a shortage of medical practitioners willing to visit patients in RACFs,” the report states.
“Respondents were asked of their intentions to visit RACFs over the next two years. Over one third (35.67 per cent) of respondents who currently undertake RACF visits intend to either visit current patients but not visit new patients, decrease the number of visits, or stop visiting RACFs altogether.”