The lack of publically funded community-based rehabilitation and restorative programs is one of the great missing links in the Australian health care system, according to leading Australian physicians.
Speaking at the Annual Scientific Meeting of The Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) in Brisbane today, Associate Professor Chris Poulos called for renewed action on disability and rehabilitation care.
The AFRM Annual Scientific Meeting, opened by the Honourable Curtis Pitt MP, Minister for Disabilities and Mental Health, has attracted over 300 International and Australian delegates. “As the population ages there will be more people in the community with chronic disease, frailty and reduced ability to function and live as independently as they would like,” Associate Professor Poulos said.
The aging population will place even greater pressure on the health and aged care systems, particularly on residential aged care and community services, according to Associate Professor Poulos.
Investment in rehabilitation services at the community level is one of the most viable solutions to the aging population.
“Most people think about rehabilitation as something you need only when you have had a sudden, serious illness or injury. However rehabilitation can also help the many thousands of people in Australia whose disability creeps up on them more gradually as they age or develop chronic disease.
“Rehabilitation programs can help these people achieve greater independence and wellbeing and can help them take control again.”
For those who cannot, or do not wish to receive ongoing care in the hospital setting, there is almost no provision of multidisciplinary rehabilitation programs because of the lack of funding in community-based rehabilitation programs, Associate Professor Poulos said.
“Community-based rehabilitation can be a very cost effective alternative to inpatient programs. “We need to work collaboratively with government to develop the best models, incorporating the best evidence of what works.”
“Effective community care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, if well executed, will reduce the burden on other parts of the health and aged care sectors and will help ease the burden on hospitals.
The AFRM Annual Scientific Meeting ‘Striking AcCORD – succeeding through teamwork’ has attracted a high calibre of keynote speakers, including the University of Washington’s Professor Mark Jensen who will present on hypnotic cognitive therapy – an innovative treatment to enhance pain management and patient outcomes.
Professor Li Jianium, Director of the Chinese Rehab Centre will also present on current models of care for people with spinal cord injuries in China.
The Annual Scientific Meeting, to be held from 13 to 17 September will address a diverse range of health-related issues relating to the practice of rehabilitation in the acute and subacute settings, focusing on patient care, innovative therapies and the impact of the patient – physician on recovery.
The 2011 AFRM Annual Scientific Meeting is currently being held in Brisbane from 13 to 17 September, 2011