BASS Coast Health (BCH) has expanded a program that helps people in residential care avoid coming to hospital.

BCH’s Residential In Reach program sees BCH senior clinical nurses provide support for aged care residents in facilities across the Bass Coast to ensure they receive timely care and to help keep them out of hospital.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in BCH expanding the program by increasing staff and hours of availability,  said Dr Renee Kelsell, geriatrician and chief medical officer.

“Residential In Reach has expanded to ensure that residential aged care facilities have extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have achieved this by increasing our staff numbers to three and by increasing our operating hours. There are now nurses available from 8am to 7.30pm Monday to Friday and Saturday and Sunday from 11.30am to 7.30pm,” she said.

Renee confirmed that people aged 65 and older are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

“People who live in aged care facilities are at an increased risk compared to older people who live in the community because of the close confines they live in,” she said.

The Residential In Reach program works with the following residential aged care services: Kirrak House, Griffiths Point Lodge, Banfields, Grossard Court, Melaleuca Lodge, Rose Lodge and Seahaven.

The BCH visiting nurses provide a variety of services, such as assessment and management advice for pain, falls prevention, chronic disease, dementia, dehydration and nutrition, wounds and delirium screening. Nurses also liaise with other members of a resident’s healthcare team including the important general practitioner, and Bass Coast Health departments.

The nurses can help with medication reviews, advance care planning including family meetings, pathology collection and treatment for such conditions as chest infections and pneumonia. The nurses can provide such interventions as urinary catheter management, administering intravenous therapy and medications, palliative care advice and referral, and educate staff and residents about specific conditions and care needs.

The service is free apart from any consumables, such as wound care dressings, that may be used.

Telephone referrals are accepted from staff of aged care facilities, GPs, allied health, and residents and their relatives.

The contact phone number for the Residential In Reach program is 5671 3135 or 0418 576 082.