Helping older patients to get home sooner

Posted 04 Oct 2016
RACE program partners and staff celebrate at the pilot launch event

A new pilot project at Westmead Hospital will study and facilitate the discharge process and in-home care of elderly patients. The project partners include multidisciplinary teams and agencies that include in-home support services.

The Westmead Redevelopment is transforming health infrastructure and services across the Westmead precinct, including the spaces and services used by elderly patients. Members of project user groups (PUGs), including a Healthcare for Older People Earlier (HOPE) PUG, have been involved in planning a 12 unit bed for older people for the new hospital building. HOPE PUG members were also integral to the renovation of the HOPE unit earlier this year.

To complement this Westmead Redevelopment work, the Westmead Hospital’s Geriatric Medicine staff have developed a pilot program.

The Rapid Access to Care and Evaluation (RACE) program is a person-centred model of healthcare for older patients that also aims to:

  • Improve communications between patients, carers, their clinicians and service providers
  • Streamline patient referral processes including improvements to the process of sharing and updating medical records between health services and agencies
  • Increase access to in-home mobility devices and other medical equipment

“Patients hold onto a health record sheet that is updated on an ongoing basis by visiting doctors, other in-home specialists and service providers. This record will move to electronic records post-pilot. Patients will be able to see what is happening now, what will happen next, and who to contact if they are concerned about specific things related to their health and treatment,” said HOPE PUG member and Project leader Shalini Balram, from the Geriatric Medicine Department at Westmead Hospital.

“We aim to see four to six patients per week who can access four to six weeks of in-home support. The program also includes a patient assessment and feedback process. We will see what has worked, what hasn’t and what can be improved.”

The pilot ends after a three month trial, wrapping up reporting in December 2016.

“Community members and consumer representatives will be involved in the program evaluation process. A pilot is crucial to gather the data, test the model and to make that next step to an ongoing program. A program, which also responds to patient and carer feedback,” said HOPE PUG Champion, Dr Ray Cabela.

Dr Cabela continued, “This program demonstrates the many models of care reviews happening right now across the Westmead precinct. We are using the Westmead Redevelopment planning process as a prism through which we look at everything we do and how to improve experiences and care of patients. There is much more to the Redevelopment than a new shiny hospital building and a number of renovated spaces.”

Earlier this month it was standing room only at the RACE pilot launch event, with around 100 staff and partners attending.

For more information on the RACE pilot contact Shalini Balram on (02) 9845 9250 or

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