The law – which was revised in 2016 – required all people aged over 80 to be offered an annual preventive home visits (the previous cut-off was 75 years).
The visits must also be offered to “vulnerable and socially exposed” people between the ages of 65 and 80 who are considered at risk because they are in a “difficult” life situation, such as a person who has lost their spouse or partner.
The amendments also freed up the arrangements for visits so they can take place outside of the home if necessary.
The aim of the visits is to detect early signs of disability and set up a line of communication with the older persons about their wellbeing.
The multidisciplinary teams who visit people’s homes also provide advice and information about activities, health and support services that will help them maintain their function.
While the concept was slow to take off – only 60% of participants accepted visits six years into the program – the 2016 changes have led to an increased take-up – and research has shown they do have an impact on participants’ health.
One study showed while mortality rates stayed the same when compared to a control group, the visits did seem to slow the decline in the person’s health and quality of life – and these benefits diminished if the visits stopped.
Australia does have its own comprehensive health assessments (CHA), but these are generally only carried out when the person accesses aged care services for the first time – too late for intervention.
Could this concept be part of the solution?