The conversations of life

Australian Unity launches Australian-first nurses’ trial to cut emergency room visits by the elderly


Australian Unity is trialling an after-hours service of a nurse practitioner for cases that don’t need urgent hospital treatment in Vermont South, Victoria.

It is available to the home’s 104 residents at its Victoria Grange Aged Care and Retirement Community as well as over 5,000 people aged over 65 living in a 10km radius.

Previously, residents would have been forced to go to the hospital emergency room, putting further strain on our public health system.

Avoiding the ER

The service has now been up and running for six weeks with the nurse practitioner in the clinic three days and two evenings a week.

Unlike a registered nurse (RN), nurse practitioners can prescribe medications, write referrals and order radiology services, allowing them to treat patients who would otherwise need to be transferred to hospital or attended by a locum.

Paying to keep seniors well

Australian Unity created the service as a result of a study trip to the US in 2015, where they saw a number of models in which nursing home providers are paid to keep seniors healthy and active.

CEO of Independent and Assisted Living Derek McMillan said they were already looking into plans to expand the service.

“Should the trial be successful, we predict that we could permanently engage two Nurse Practitioners to be on call, seven days a week,” Mr McMillan said.

With changes to home care set to give us more control over our care in February 2017, it’s another sign of how villages and nursing homes are adapting.


Jill Donaldson

A practising aged care physiotherapist for the past 13 years, Jill has worked in more than 50 metropolitan and regional aged care homes. She has also toured care facilities across the US and Africa. She is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff that serve them.

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