Nursing homes to receive bonus to house elderly WA hospital patients

Aged care providers will receive cash grants worth up to $1825 to take elderly patients fit for medical discharge out of hospital and into “respite” care in a bid to free up beds in the strained public health system.

A tender for the scheme lay out plans to reduce “bed blockages” caused by older patients becoming unnecessarily trapped in public hospitals as they wait for a permanent placement in a residential aged care facility.

The $2.9 million pilot would also allow participating hospital patients to “try before you buy” in a nursing home, exposing them to life in aged care without locking them into a long-term agreement.

It is the latest bid to ease the significant and growing burden WA’s ageing population has placed on public hospitals and comes with WA Health already trialling virtual consultations for aged care residents who fall ill to reduce unnecessary emergency department presentations.

“The respite pilot gives older patients the opportunity to leave hospital sooner,” the tender document reads.

“This is important, because hospitals are not the safest place for older people who do not need hospital care, and every extra day spent in hospital increases the risks to their health.

“In some circumstances, the pilot will provide patients and their families or carers with the opportunity to try living in an aged care home prior to making a decision to live there permanently.”

The trial will run from next month until mid-2024 and allows approved aged care providers to register to take part in the program, which requires a declaration that they will not reduce their respite offering to the broader community as a result of accepting hospital patients.

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