26 July 2010
Caring for the elderly in the Sutherland Shire
Aged care services is a priority in South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Health (SESIH), with the provision of quality healthcare
services available to care for and assist older patients, clients, families and carers.
According to Associate Professor Peter Gonski, Director of Southcare and Aged Care and Rehabilitation, SESIH, as the population
continues to age, there have been increases in the provision of community care.
“Our aim is to assist community members to remain independent and in their homes for as long as possible. In achieving this, we
have established a range of services that have a major focus on care at home and in community locations, with carer support and
dementia services also priorities,” Professor Gonski said.
Figures show the population of SESIH is ageing. By 2026, the population aged 75 years and over will have increased by 60 percent,
and those aged 85 years and over will have nearly doubled.
“In the Sutherland Shire, there is a very well developed and integrated aged care service, which includes Southcare, located at
Sutherland Hospital, comprising a large number of community and state-of-the-art hospital services,” Professor Gonski said.
Aged care services in the Shire come under the auspices of the Area Health Service, non-government services, high class aged care
residential facilities (hostels and nursing homes) and excellent general practitioners, many of whom are associated with a well
recognised Sutherland Division of GPs. These services all work and communicate well with each other.
Professor Gonski said the essence of aged care is a comprehensive assessment comprising medical, social and functional aspects.
“Medical diagnosis of conditions is extremely important and management of confusion and falls are the two most common medical problems
of the elderly population.
“Without an accurate diagnosis and treatment, patients may endure unnecessary suffering or suboptimal care, or be cared for in
inappropriate accommodation,” he said.
Professor Gonski said social assessment involving clients and carers and their interaction, relationships and ability to provide
care is integral to their assessment.
“Functional assessment of the patient, usually best performed in the person’s home, is also critical to improve independence and
reduced falls. Aged care workers are highly skilled in assessments and work with patients, clients, families and carers to optimise
better health and accommodation issues,” he said.
“Assessment and management of patients can be complex and decision-making is ultimately with the individual and with those whom the
individual has nominated.
“Rarely, if there are no carers, or the carers are not in agreement with care issues, the Guardianship Board will be called upon
to assist with the process,” Professor Gonski said.
“The role of aged care services is to promote good health, optimise function, but most of all maximise quality of life.
“Carers are absolutely integral to this and are assisted by the services in the Sutherland Shire to give elderly people the
quality healthcare they certainly deserve,” he said.
Media enquiries: Health Communication Officer Maxine Brennan, 9113 2601, 0413 028 776