Should the government do this to help Australian over 60s? 63



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Australia’s ageing population presents both opportunities and problems. The issue is that unless the government and the public does something to take advantage of the opportunities, they too will become a problem. One of the biggest opportunities that could turn into a problem is the healthcare for ageing Australia. It’s no secret that as we age our health needs change and at a recent conference for The Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RADQ) they had a great idea, but it could be expensive – the question is, do you agree that the government should be supporting and investing in this?

The conference called for more medical services for rural and remote people in the form of fly-in, fly-out practitioners. At the moment locums or resident doctors often spend only six month in a community before leaving it – leaving patients to never fully form a relationship with their doctor. This isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s simply because there hasn’t been a great need for ongoing relationships with doctors. Until the population ages, it is now more than ever that a doctor who understands you and your health history is so important. And perhaps more importantly, you need to be able to rely on him.

Australia’s rapidly ageing population will see the old age dependency ratio – how many older Australians there are for every working age Australian – increase significantly over the next three decades. Right now, it sits at about 24 per 100, however in rural areas that number is slightly higher and it will continue to grow. The population of Australians living is rural and remote areas is also growing, however it’s older Australians moving opting for a lifestyle change rather than young Australians looking for manual work that is driving this shift. At the moment, one in 10 people live in outer regional areas and one in 40 live in remote areas.

The problem here lies in the fact the quality of health of people living in rural and remote areas is in fact less than those living in major cities. Government reports show that those living outside major cities have higher chance of diabetes, asthma, lung disease, arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis than those living in major cities. In addition to this life expectancy is, on average, less for men and women living in regional and remote areas than those living in inner regional and major city areas.

So how can the FIFO solution help this?

By establishing fly-in, fly-out doctors, there’s a good chance that they will find the idea favourable as they can continue working in remote communities while remaining based in the city with families, balancing the lifestyle. This has the potential to prompt doctors to remain within one community for longer as it’s a permanent arrangement and if it’s suitable to their needs and lifestyle, then it would be quite a happy agreement. For the community in the local area, they then have a permanent doctor. This is someone who can establish a proper relationship with them and take a personal approach to their healthcare without the thought that they’ll be gone with new patients within six months.

This also means that so many of the chronic conditions mentioned above actually have the potential to be managed properly. Chronic diseases are the same yet so different. For each patient the case forms differently to the last making a strong understanding and familiarisation with patient health integral to administering the appropriate treatment. It also means that for most weeks a year, there’s someone regular and reliable to see in emergencies.

Speaking at the RADQ conference, the Association’s President Doctor Tash Coventry said about the concept, “I guess it’s trying to look at models that allow long-term, committed service provision and continuity of care.

“It might not be everyday – day in, day out. You might have a shared role and I think we need to start looking in that space and seeing how we can be creative in our employment so that it becomes attractive and it becomes a sustainable solution so that the patients benefit by having a regular care provider that they can build a rapport with and trust.”

The question remains about whether or not the government can and will afford the time, thought, consideration and funds to think about the future of this problem. It’s an expensive task but one that has incredible potential to change the lives of so many people. This has the potential to be an opportunity to lead the world in rural and remote healthcare, to create jobs and support rural Australia – the backbone of our nation. But will government and advocates be too slow and ignore it, and instead watch it turn into a giant problem that burdens the healthcare in our country… We’ll have to wait and find out.

Tell us, do you think that more should be done for remote and rural health in Australia? Do you live in a rural or remote area? Do you feel there is enough healthcare and support in your town? Share your thoughts in the comments below..

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. It’s a great idea and about time the government did some planning instead of complaining about us.

    2 REPLY
  2. I’m sick to death of feeling guilty about being rude enough to age.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree. Governments were warned years ago of future problems & needs, but they can only see ahead as far as the next election, & this applies to all political parties.

  3. They have had over 60 years to think about us ageing..why wait till the last second to say there may be problems?

    4 REPLY
    • Because all governments play catch up with everything. Roads, schools, hospitals, every type of infrastructure.

    • well catch up is good and fine if your a child , playing tag is the school yard , but it doesn’t work with older humans

    • I am 69 one the first baby boomers! They have had that long to prepare for the influx of retirees. Started way back when I went to school, large classes, not enough teachers.
      Surely someone with half a brain could have seen this would keep happening as we aged!

  4. The baby boomers for many years have been told to live a healthy life, no smoking, limit your alcohol, eat endless fruit and verges, exercise regularly, all good valid points, but now everyone seems to be living longer due to lifestyle changes and Medical breakthroughs etc., the government are now saying we can’t afford to look after you once you retire, re pensions. Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    2 REPLY
    • I think now they want us to die as soon as possible, maybe that is why they cut funding to science, to ensure they never discovered anything that could help us live longer

  5. I live in a large regional centre in Queensland and despite the size of the town we are lacking many of the essential specialists. No neurologist and no geriatrician, both of which my very elderly parents need. It seems we are second class citizens when it comes to health care.

    7 REPLY
    • We have to travel an hour to an hour and a half to get any specialists here. I am 61 and driving is becoming a problem so over then next 10 years things are going to get worse.

    • Townsville or Rockhampton are over four hours drive. Plane travel, taxis and accommodation are not only expensive but much too stressful to contemplate. Therefore my parents just don’t get the help they need.

    • It is so wrong that older Australians should have to travel 4 hours, 8 hour round trip to get the medical treatment they need. I am for the first time SPEECHLESS that this is what this great country has come too.

    • First time fifo sounds like a good idea. How do we deal with day to day stuff tho? Nurse clinics. ? Most nurses are more than adequate for general stuff

  6. I get the feeling with our Generation, when it comes to anything, they think they have made a new discovery..old age !! They have had years and years to work all this out..suddenly The Boomers are the worst thing in the world !!

  7. We have very good health services in our regional town but like all regional towns there are some areas of health care that go wanting. Any scheme to improve services in rural and especially those extremely remote parts of Australia would have widespread approval.

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