A milestone 1000 western Sydney aged care residents avoided emergency departments thanks to WSLHD’S inTouch service

The 1000th patient recently benefited from a pioneering care program in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) that is helping the elderly avoid emergency departments (ED).

WSLHD’s inTouch Urgent Care Service offers 65 Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF) in western Sydney assistance, saving them a trip to the hospital and allowing recovery in the comfort of their own homes.

inTouch uses virtual care as a mode of delivery to support connecting patients with the most appropriate care in the right setting using technology to bring clinicians, patients and families together at certain points of the care journey.

This program has made it possible for a centralised collaboration between RACF staff, General Practitioners (GPs), paramedics, hospital staff, and health and community service providers.

Through the use of digital platforms, these stakeholders are able to work together to provide the best quality of care for residents where they live, rather than in an unfamiliar environment.

A recent example of the incredible work of the inTouch team utilising virtual care involved a RACF resident with ongoing wrist pain following a fall the previous day.

The resident’s GP had arranged a mobile X-ray, but RACF staff were unable to access the result when the GP was unavailable, so they called an ambulance to arrange a transfer to ED for further management.

inTouch reached out to assist and was able to access the resident’s X-ray images via the mobile radiology’s secure online portal and shared these with the orthopaedic specialist on-call at Westmead Hospital who recommended six-weeks immobilisation of the fracture.

After liaising with NSW Ambulance, an Extended Care Paramedic was sent out to the RACF to apply a plaster in the comfort of the resident’s own bed, just as they would have in ED.

Jasmin Ellis, the General Manager of WSLHD Integrated and Community Health, emphasised the importance of the inTouch model in caring for older patients.

inTouch ensures that older western Sydney residents get the high-quality care they need for less urgent conditions, in the right setting,” Jasmin said.

“Accessing the appropriate support service is crucial for our more vulnerable patients, and the inTouch program is an invaluable service to connect a variety of healthcare experts, as a care team, to the patient by leveraging off new virtual capabilities.”

inTouch began as a way of adapting to health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic enabling over 45,000 patients to be cared for at home whilst COVID positive.

In May 2023, the inTouch nursing team won the Team of the Year award at the 2023 WSLHD Nursing and Midwifery Awards, recognising their excellent delivery of safe care and demonstrated effective collaboration both with each other and with others outside of their team.

WSLHD remains committed to delivering patient-centered care that improves health outcomes for the community.

The inTouch Urgent Care Service represents a transformative approach to healthcare delivery, reducing unnecessary ED transfers and providing optimal care options for residents.

With its continued success, inTouch is set to make an even greater impact on the western Sydney community in the years to come.