Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2016 Contents focus
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About Agestrong Physio
Agestrong Physio's approach to pain
management has been developed holistically,
with the client and their needs the central focus.
"Client treatment plans are developed
based on a thorough musculoskeletal
assessment and take into account the
person's goals, desires and preferences,"
says managing director Sheryl Aldcroft.
Each Agestrong client is educated on
potential causes of pain and offered advice
on the most effective evidence-based
therapies, with the ACFI pain management
program just one of the options available.
"We strongly encourage our team to think
outside the box and challenge misconceptions
around what types of therapies are suited to
this age group," says Aldcroft.
"Just because they reside in a
residential care facility doesn't mean that
they shouldn't have access to effective
programs such as Pilates, Bobath therapy,
tai chi, yoga and general fitness classes
such as spinning and cross fit."
One of Agestrong's key areas of
expertise is pain management for residents
living with dementia, a cohort that Aldcroft
says is often "paid lip service" when it
comes to treatment options due to the
challenges associated with communication,
engagement and behaviour.
Treatment options have developed
in collaboration with industry leaders,
and look to incorporate functional based
exercises and relaxation therapies that are
fun and engaging.
AgeStrong provides services across
Victoria and New South Wales.
To find out more, call: 1300 851 639.
rates, increased incidence of drug-
related delirium and decline in resident's
functional capacity, leading to higher rates
of carer burden."
Aldcroft argues the ACFI changes were
a missed opportunity to review the types
of therapies delivered through the pain
"The new proposed changes to include
30-minute treatments for each client
under the existing four-day structure
without a change to therapy modality
options is an inefficienst service model,
and could result in higher rates of resident
non-compliance due to therapy intensity,"
More cost effective, argues Aldcroft,
would be to include the option for group-
based or individualised exercise programs.
The benefits of exercise have a strong
evidence-base, and could help aged
care providers to promote mobility and
dexterity, and potentially also reduce
the incidence of falls, depression and
"If physiotherapists were afforded
the opportunity to formulate and
individualise treatment plans using a
range of approaches, then therapy could
be offered in intensive bursts, then
graduated to a less hands-on maintenance
phase, offering more group-based therapy
and ongoing review of their progress and
levels of pain," says Aldcroft.
"This model would help maximise
client compliance and physiotherapy
service providers could look at alternate
cost-effective models for aged care
"Cost savings could be channelled into
much needed reablement and high risk
preventive programs that could further
benefit resident outcomes and reduce
facilities' exposure to reportable incidents."
Similarly, Aldcroft says there is need
for a review of the ACFI business rules
surrounding who is most appropriate to
assess and complete pain management
directives. While directives, program
reviews and assessments would still need to
be performed by physios, allowing suitably
qualified allied health assistants or massage
therapists to carry out the pain management
therapies -- under the physio's supervision --
could be one simple cost saving.
As there is a shortage of physios in the
market, this approach could also allow
regional providers who would otherwise
have limited access to professionals an
increased ability to offer pain programs.
Aldcroft says it's also worth considering
funding the pain management program
as a subsidy separate to the ACFI, similar
to the dementia supplement. Delivering
funding only for days residents are
actually receiving therapy -- i.e. four days
instead of seven -- would also allow an
immediate cost saving without changes to
the current scoring matrix.
Aldcroft says that with the government
embracing a client-centred approach,
there is a need for health policy decision
makers to better understand the
requirements and preferences of the
current residents in aged care.
"The government is premature in its
expectation that the current generation
has the means and asset base to support
their care, and such, the proposed
system will fall short. There needs to be
a greater level of industry, consumer and
government collaboration if we are to get
this right," she says.
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