NNSWLHD Nurse Practitioner Psychogeriatrics, Anne Moehead

The care of dementia patients in hospitals has been found to benefit from staff knowing the five most important things a person needs in order to be reassured and comfortable during their stay.

Short-handed as the ‘Top 5’, the tool is now being implemented across the Northern NSW Local Health District, starting with Lismore Base Hospital.

The initiative, which coincides with national Dementia Awareness Month, is designed to help medical staff working with carers to tap into the latter group’s knowledge and expertise. The beneficiaries are patients, carers, and clinicians.

NNSWLHD Nurse Practitioner Psychogeriatrics, Anne Moehead, said LBH is implementing the Top 5 program across the Health Service to help personalise hospital care for patients with memory and thinking problems.

Film review - Robin Osborne

Diverse medical issues have inspired three of the best Australian films of recent times, Ruben Guthrie (the dangers of alcohol misuse), Last Cab to Darwin (cancer, and euthanasia), and Holding the Man (HIV/AIDS).

Since reviewing the first of these for GP Speak Spring issue I made a point of catching the second on the basis of loving the work of actor Michael Caton (The Castle), who plays a cancer patient/cab driver willing to drive thousands of kilometres for a painless death.

Liz Rix

Residual trauma from ‘Stolen Generation’ experiences, cultural insensitivity in parts of the healthcare system, and memories of discrimination against family members* - broadly linked as ‘institutional racism’ - continues to impact on the effectiveness of renal care for rural Aboriginal people.

This is a key finding in research for a PhD thesis undertaken by University of Sydney doctoral candidate Liz Rix who held lengthy discussions with Aboriginal renal patients in the Northern Rivers region.

Ms Rix, a non-Indigenous person, has been invited to present a paper on her research at the October conference of the American Indigenous Research Association in Pablo, Montana USA http://americanindigenousresearchassociation.org/meeting/agenda/

Medicare Logo

For the first time ever, more than one million billings a day are being received by Medicare, a figure that outstrips the number of new patients over the past decade by three-to-one.

Announcing the Medicare statistics for 2014-15, Health Minister Sussan Ley said 21 million Australians accessed more than 368 million individual services on the Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS).

The cost to taxpayers exceeded $20 billion, she added.

According to the Minister, about 90 per cent of the nation’s 23.95M population accessed Medicare last year, with an average number of 17 items being recorded per patient, at an average cost of $800 per person.

“Medicare claims are now an average of $350 a year higher than they were 10 years ago,” Ms Ley said.

Dr Michael Douglas

The University Centre for Rural Health is seeking input from Northern Rivers GPs on a study exploring illicit drug use and associated harms in the area covered by Northern NSW Local Health District (Tweed-Grafton).

The study’s aim is to address an identified knowledge gap about local drug use, and to establish a Rural Drug Monitoring System, according to Dr Michael Douglas, UCRH’s Director of Education.

“Currently, we know very little about the harms associated with drug use, and the implications for relevant services. We are seeking input from General Practitioners, many of whom are at the front line of the issue,” he added.

“We would be most grateful if GPs are able to support this research by engaging in an interview exploring the matter. The interview can be done face-to-face or by telephone, at a time of their convenience, and is expected to take about 30 minutes.”