Aged Care

Maintaining health and wellbeing as people get older is important and can dramatically impact on a person’s ability to remain independent and to experience a full life.

As people get older, they become more likely to experience ill-health, including much higher rates of chronic disease and injuries resulting from falls. As such older people are likely to benefit from preventative health services such as specialised exercise programs, falls prevention programs and guidance about how to maintain good nutrition.

Allied health and aged care

Allied health professionals are an essential part of the team that enables older people to function well physically, socially and emotionally and support them to live independently in the community. Allied health professionals use their specialised knowledge and skills to provide many services for older people.

These include:

  • Interventions to promote healthy ageing and reduce the impact of chronic conditions and disabilities
  • Rehabilitative care to support people to regain function and strength after serious injury or an illness such as stroke
  • Strategies to support people to live independently in their own home
  • Care co-ordination to assist people navigate the aged care system and make choices that are best for them

Allied health practitioners work in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, community health centres and in private practice.  Older people can access allied health services in these settings as well as receiving services in their home or residential aged care facility.

Allied health professionals provide services independently, but will often work in multi-disciplinary teams to ensure older people have access to the full range of therapies and treatments they need to manage their health needs.

Optimising function and independence

Allied health professionals can provide a diverse range of interventions that prevent or slow the progression of conditions and empower older people to live full and active lives.  Allied health interventions include assessment, diagnosis and therapies to enable people maintain mobility, hearing, sight, speech and swallowing, as well as advice on good nutrition.  Allied health professionals also provide psychosocial interventions such as counseling and music and art therapy.

Allied health professionals can provide a broad range of services:

Accessing allied health aged care services

The My Aged Care website provides a referral point for older people to access assessment and funding for the allied health services they need.

Allied health services provided in the community are funded through Medicare – a GP Chronic Disease Management Plan and referral is required.   The Department of Veteran’s Affairs and private health insurance also fund allied health services.  Some services may require a co-payment, as rebates may not cover the full cost of the treatment. Access to allied health professionals may also be available through community health centres and programs funded by Primary Health Networks.

Access to mental health services for older people is different if an older person is living in the community or if they are living in a residential aged care facility. For people living in the community, access is via Medicare-funded mental health services.