Tuesday, 29 September 2020
Our health system needs to be redesigned to meet the health and support needs of all Queenslanders, says the state’s peak organisation for seniors.
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Queensland’s Chief Executive, Mark Tucker-Evans, said that access to affordable and quality health care services is consistently identified as a priority issue for older Queenslanders.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put our health system in the spotlight. We need an integrated whole of life health system that puts people at the center of care and enables us all to live well.”
“We need a system that ensures equitable access for all of us throughout our lives, no matter our diagnosis, age, location, or resources.”
Mr Tucker-Evans said that health services are not coordinated which is frustrating for health consumers and can mean some of the most vulnerable in our community fall through the gaps.
“We may need different kinds of supports throughout our lives. Any of us might need the services of a GP, dentist, or hospital. The need for mental health support, carer services, dementia services, disability supports, aged care, or palliative and end of life care have been highlighted during COVID-19.”
“We continually hear from Queenslanders that the system is fragmented and access to services varies widely across the state, and consumer and professional knowledge about services and supports and how to access them is limited.”
“We need a system that supports people with clear pathways to the help they need, where and when they need it.”
The focus for this year’s United Nations International Day of Older Persons (1 October) is how pandemics change how we think about age and ageing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the pressure our health, care, and support systems can come under and where there are some significant gaps and problems.” Mr Tucker-Evans said. “But we have also seen what kind of health system we can create when we are willing to make the changes that are needed to connect up supports and improve access.”
COTA Queensland has released an action plan for the Queensland Government, which highlights the health system as one of the major areas needing change in our state.
Mr Tucker-Evans said that the health and support systems also need to connect to other Government agencies.
“Governments have taken a siloed approach to services across agencies with little thought being given to the benefits of better integrating, for example, health delivery with transport system design.”
“High quality, integrated health services have to be complemented by transport, internet, and telephone services that help people access health services, receive treatment or care, housing that supports people to live well and participate in their communities, and outdoor spaces that help people to remain active and connected.”
“We are asking the Queensland Government to show leadership in working with the Federal Government and local Governments and to bring together stakeholders across sectors to address the gaps and work towards integration of services to enable Queenslanders to age well.”