Medical care in Australian residential aged care: Perspectives of residents, family, nurses and general practitioners

Publication Name

Health and Social Care in the Community


The importance of residential aged care facility (RACF)’s medical care is growing, driven by world-wide demographic trends in ageing populations. Despite this, there is a paucity of research into this care delivery from the perspective of those most involved. This study aimed to identify the enablers of and barriers to satisfactory RACF medical care by focusing on the general practitioner (GP) visit in the experience of residents, their family, registered nurses (RNs) and GPs. A multi-site case study was conducted at four purposively chosen RACFs in rural and regional New South Wales, Australia. Data derived from semi-structured interviews with 35 randomly selected aforementioned stakeholders and conducted in 2017 were evaluated using thematic, specifically framework analysis. The study's first key finding was related to the care team and to care recipients. It was evident that the quality of the RN–GP interprofessional collaboration was important for satisfactory care delivery. However, the care team was observed to additionally include RACF care staff and family members. Families were also in need of care. The study's second key finding was related to continuity of care. The interpersonal continuity of care provided by the existing GP continuing a new resident's care was beneficial. Informational continuity of care was found to be important but often disrupted by patient's information being initially unavailable, then fragmented and stored in different places. Medication management systems when accessed were poorly organised, time consuming and complex. This research suggests two useful new paradigms for residential aged care. The first is a re-envisaging of the resident care team to include the RN, GP, family and care staff, and those needing care to include residents and family. Secondly, care teams informed by interpersonal and informational continuity of care, and satisfactory resident care appears inextricably and positively linked.

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