The Royal Flying Doctor Service is not an aged care provider, however in the provision of emergency air retrieval, outreach/telehealth medical, nursing, dental, mental and allied health care, as well as patient transport by road and air to rural and remote patients of all ages, the RFDS has significant insight into the issues that exist for those who are growing older in the bush.
CEO of RFDS Australia, Dr Martin Laverty, has presented evidence and testimony in Broome this week as part of the Royal Commission into Aged Care.
In the opinion of the RFDS, the accessibility of preventative, primary and rehabilitation care available to rural and remote Australians is substandard when compared to that which is accessible by metropolitan Australians. This inaccessibility of care contributes to older Australians suffering disease or injury, and the risk of avoidable entry to residential aged care. It also contributes to older people leaving their home or community to receive health and aged care in larger regional or metropolitan cities. This places a burden on family members, informal caregivers and non-aged care providers – not to mention the elderly.
“There are half the number of doctors working in remote Australia than they are in city areas and very similarly, when you look at all of the allied health professions, you see roughly between half to one-third the availability of various allied health professions – physiotherapy, pharmacy, occupational therapy – in remote Australia.
“The consequence bears out in the acuity of those older Australians living in remoter areas,” Dr Laverty told the hearing on Tuesday in Broome.