There are many health professionals, volunteers and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners who provide services to residents in aged care and who may contribute to the palliative care needs of residents. It is important that all providers are informed when a resident’s care status changes so that they can:
- provide effective and appropriate care
- contribute to care planning in a timely manner
- avoid unnecessary visits if their services are no longer appropriate
- are acknowledged for their contribution to the resident’s care, and have the opportunity to make a final visit if appropriate.
There are many different types of services that may be provided by a visiting specialist or health professional. This may be auspiced by the RACF or at the request of the resident or family member.
- Medical specialists, especially geriatricians with an interest in dementia care, may review residents at the request of the GP.
- Physiotherapists in RAC contribute to resident care plans (mobility, exercise plans, safety and pain management) and provide direct services to residents.
- Specialists from palliative care services or neurological support groups (Parkinson’s, MND, MS associations) may visit or provide telephone support to manage specific problems
- Speech pathologists and dieticians may review a resident with eating difficulties.
- An occupational therapist may see residents to help manage symptoms such as pain associated with positioning or to review pressure and comfort care, particularly in sitting.
- Ministers of religion, chaplains and pastoral care workers provide spiritual and supportive care to residents and their families. They may have a formal link to the RACF or visit from the community.
- Music therapists, aromatherapists, reiki practitioners and other CAM practitioners may provide support.
To ensure visits from other health providers are effective prepare properly for the visit and ensure outcomes are communicated clearly to the resident, family and staff providing care.
Make sure the facility is prepared for a visit from a visiting service provider:
- be clear about why the visit has been requested and goals to be achieved from consultation
- have appropriate documentation readily available, these include:
- care plans
- progress notes
- advance directive
- have a senior staff member available to support and consult with visiting specialist
- ideally, provide a quiet and private area for consultation
- make sure the family is aware of the referral and present if appropriate
- outcomes of consultation clearly documented and care plan updated.