Home care benefits senior citizens: Health service responds to calls

Sitting comfortable: SOS client Dorothy Hippit with Southcare registered nurse Linden Harper and physiotherapist Michelle Sullivan. Picture: Chris Lane
Sitting comfortable: SOS client Dorothy Hippit with Southcare registered nurse Linden Harper and physiotherapist Michelle Sullivan. Picture: Chris Lane

DOROTHY Hippit, 83, of Cronulla, receives personalised health care and assessment in the comfort of her own home and it does not cost her a cent.

She is one of the many older residents in Sutherland Shire who has used the Southcare Outreach Service (SOS), established in February 2014.

SOS is a unique service run out of Southcare at Sutherland Hospital in collaboration with NSW Ambulance and local GPs and other community services.

It provides in-home health care and medical attention — responding within one to 48 hours.

There is care planning for up to six weeks for older residents with medical conditions such as acute back, knee and hip pain, a decline in mobility, or a recent history of falling.

Southcare director Associate Professor Peter Gonski said it had led to a reduction in emergency department visits and admissions, where clinically appropriate.

Mrs Hippit described the service as "magic" and encouraged others to "put their hand out".

"In the beginning, you don't like taking the help, but when you're on your Pat Malone [alone], it's magic," Mrs Hippit said.

"I was always the one looking after someone else, I just wanted to do this on my own, but it's stupid to be a martyr."

Southcare registered nurse Linden Harper said: "We see a lot of patients in the community who are independent, they want to struggle along, until it's a crisis."

Physiotherapist Michelle Sullivan said the service also linked people with other services such as respite care and Meals on Wheels.

The service is available to shire residents aged 65 years and over.

It is 55 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Referrals: Southcare, 9540 7540.