George home in time for Christmas, under Yooralla’s hospital transition program

George was able to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a home-away-from-home after spending close to six months in hospital—through a new transitional care program supporting patients with disability to be discharged from hospital more quickly.

A long-standing issue Australia-wide is the number of people with disability who remain stuck in hospital despite having no medical need to be there. This is less than ideal for the individual, but also places an unnecessary strain on the healthcare system, which is already being challenged by the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Health’s new Transitional Care Program (TCP) for People with Disability is helping people with disability, like George, transition out of hospital into the community while their permanent supports are approved and arranged.    Yooralla was able to partner with Austin Health, where George was a long-term inpatient, to support a safe hospital discharge.  Yooralla and Austin Health are the first providers to transition someone out of hospital under the new TCP program.

For George, getting out of hospital in time for Christmas was the number one priority for him and his family after being in hospital for six months, which included having to adhere to the strict COVID-19 restrictions, including those surrounding hospital visitors.

George moved to a Yooralla residential service on Christmas Eve, where he was supported in a home-away-from-home setting and given the opportunity to demonstrate his capabilities, painting a much clearer picture of his support needs—which can be skewed while in a hospital environment.

For George, this meant he was able to return to the family home after only five days, where Yooralla continues to provide regular in-home support. He has developed strong relationships with Yooralla’s Disability Support Workers who have been supporting him to get back out-and-about, enjoying the everyday things like shopping and eating at a café.

He has also enjoyed sleeping in his own bed for the first time in six months, walking his dog around the familiar streets and reconnecting with friends and loved ones he had lost touch with while he was in hospital.

“Under this new program – which is long overdue - health services and disability providers are proactively working together to help people with disability get out of hospital and into a more appropriate environment, while awaiting permanent support arrangements,” says Yooralla Chief Executive Officer, Terry Symonds.

“Instead of being stuck in hospital, we can support people with disability to live in the community with the supports they need, including providing accommodation for people who do not have somewhere suitable to live.”

“They will be fully supported while enjoying the comforts of daily life, regaining some of the independence they lost while in hospital. They also get to learn what supports they might need in the longer term.”

“Yooralla looks forward to working with Austin Health and other health services to help more people get out of hospital and into independent living arrangements in the near future,” said Terry Symonds.

The program has also garnered interest from other health providers, with Eastern Health looking to transition multiple patients into Yooralla residential services in the coming weeks.

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