Mobile podiatry is a new business model and the future of healthcare. When it comes to caring for the elderly, there are standards to be met. These standards ensure the quality of service is maintained and a streamlined process is implemented between the podiatrist and the residential aged care facility.
Let’s face it – our population is aging.
An aging population can only result in a significant growth in demand for and expenditure on aged care services. In 2016-2017, approximately 69% of government spending on aged care was on residential aged care. With service agreements in place between the aged care facility and mobile podiatrist, how do we know that our loved one is receiving quality care? Here are 3 things to look for in mobile podiatry.
Residents should be seen on a 6-8 weekly rotation which is the industry standard. Unless clinically indicated, residents with conditions such as high-risk diabetes should be seen on a 4 weekly rotation.
A regular checkup consists of general foot care (toenails, callus, corns, etc) and treatment of wounds. Footwear, neurological and vascular assessments must be booked as a separate appointment and not included within the regular checkup.
2. Specialist Care
Podiatry is much more than just cutting toenails. It involves working with patients with chronic disease such as diabetes, neurological and vascular conditions among others.
There’s no doubt that dealing with the elderly requires patience, empathy and respect. However, dealing with the elderly has other challenges, such as dementia. More than 50% of residents in Australian Government-subsidised aged care facilities have dementia.
With the overall trend showing that more and more Australians will be diagnosed with this condition in the coming years, more podiatrists are equally seeking specialised training in dealing with this complex condition.
If your loved one has dementia, it is good to know if the visiting podiatrist is well-trained and knowledgeable in dealing with the condition. Cases have been reported where residents have refused service of a podiatrist due to lack of understanding or communication. Sometimes a bad experience for the resident means that they will avoid treatment at all costs.
Protocol for residential aged care facilities dictates that a nurse should always accompany the podiatrist in cases where residents have severe dementia. Severe dementia often leads to aggressive behaviour.
3. Bulk-Billing Eligibility
The residential aged care facility is responsible for expenses associated with the treatment of their residents. Residents who are eligible for Chronic Disease Management or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) should be bulk-billed by Medicare and not the facility. It is up to the residential aged care managing nurse and the resident’s GP to organise the relevant forms – not the podiatrist.
Medicare Benefits Schedule recommends each appointment to be at least 20 minutes for Chronic Disease Management and DVA patients.
In short, appointments should be set on a 6-8 weekly rotation. For high-risk diabetic residents, appointments should be set on a 4 weekly basis.
Specialised training in dementia will assist both the resident and podiatrist through mutual understanding and open communication.
Eligible patients should be bulk-billed by Medicare to reduce costs to residential aged care facilities.
Lastly, each appointment should be at least 20 minutes for Chronic Disease Management and DVA patients.
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