Health programme for elderly

Eligible elderly people in the South will benefit from a health monitoring programme to be implemented next year, Southern Primary Health Organisation chief executive Ian Macara says.

The Year on Year programme will pick up on the success of a pilot scheme in Mosgiel, involving 150 patients, known as Year of Care.

The PHO has allocated $750,000 for Year on Year over two years, with planning being done now to start delivering it in January.

The programme aims to use GPs and other health workers to assist at-risk elderly to function in their own homes, and live to the full.

Although there is no lower age limit, those eligible will tend to be older than 75.

PHO clinical lead Dr Hywel Lloyd, who is also a Mosgiel GP, said the programme helped engender the closer relationship GPs had with patients decades ago.

It required a "slight change" in GPs' thinking.

The programme would "dovetail" with Southern District Health Board plans for care clusters to support the elderly in the community.

Mosgiel resident Helen Bremner (87) said she was part of the Mosgiel pilot scheme a couple of years ago.

It was helpful for elderly people who were likely to delay visits to the doctor because of lack of money or nervousness, Mrs Bremner said.

Personally, she did not feel she needed additional monitoring, because she saw her doctor frequently.

However, for others it filled a real need, especially those living alone.

It helped doctors diagnose problems earlier than they might otherwise, she said.

Mr Macara said because of logistical issues, the programme would not be implemented everywhere at once.

The PHO is considering employing a project manager to run the programme.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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