A trial of the Aged Care System Navigator – which began in 2018 and was extended and refined through 2021-22 following positive evaluation findings – tested various models of providing older people and their families with personalised information and support to help ease access to aged care services.
The trial unsurprisingly revealed that Australia’s aged care system can feel like a maze for many people and it demonstrated that people who had difficulty accessing and utilising aged care could, with the right support, be assisted to engage with the aged care system. It also highlighted the need for intensive face-to-face support for vulnerable hard-to-reach populations who may not be connected with support services or may need assistance in establishing those services in the way they want.
Primary Health Networks (PHNs) across the country have now commissioned Care Finder organisations to focus on older adults who might otherwise fall through the cracks. This local approach will ensure Care Finder services are tailored to support the specific needs of vulnerable older adults. COTA Victoria is one such Care Finder organisation.
“PHNs have local knowledge of community needs and with their support, Care Finder organisations will be able to build better working relationships with trusted local health professionals, significantly improving integration between health, aged care and other systems in each the region,” said COTA Victoria Care Finder Program Manager, Angus Kerr.
“People within the target group for Care Finders are typically hard to reach and are more likely to engage when encouraged by a trusted local health professional,” Kerr continued. “Care Finder organisations will need to undertake assertive outreach to identify and engage with the intended client group but having the support of PHNs, who have established relationships with local health professionals such as GP’s and practice nurses, will go a long way to identifying and connecting potential clients to Care Finder organisations.”