Monday, September 05, 2005

Doctors For The Elderly

Well, I know they are called Geriatricians, but it seems to me sometimes it helps to remind ourselves about basics. Like , Geriatricians are people who provide medical services to the elderly. (Well, actually I suppose they are specialists, but wouldn't it be nice if the doctors treating the elderly were specialists, like those who treat children ).

Anyway, Doctors For The Elderly need to be able to do it in a way that makes sense for their clients (patients).

So we need to support a model of care which allows them to do that. This means paying them an adequate amount so that they can do home visits, so that they can get to nursing homes to see their clients, so that they are encouraged to want to have the elderly as patients.

So that they want to be geriatricians.

As things stand in B.C., none of those so thats are really happening. It does not pay for doctors to do home visits, go to nursing homes, etc.

Oftentimes elderly people do not have the ability to get to their physician. Sometimes they have friends or families who will take them. This means taking time off of work. If the elderly person has multiple medical problems, this can mean a lot of time off work. We already know that the costs to business of workers taking time on eldercare is enormous.

One response is organize the medical system response so that it functions in a way which meets the needs of their clients.

If I may get in a personal plug here, this is also one reason why people hire Geiatric Care Managers. We do things like make sure your relative gets to the physician. We will call the physician when something goes wrong. We may use a nurse consultant (if we are not nurses) who can do a preliminary check out at home. We will make sure their prescriptions are filled and refilled, and re-examined to make sure they are still necessary, and consult with the pharmacist to make sure they are appropriate not interacting in conflicting ways with each other.

I can't pretend to understand the recent deal from the B.C. government that was rejected by the British Columbia Medical Association. However, there were questions about doctors spending time in nursing homes, which is like doing a home visit to someone's home, they just happen to live with a ton of other people.

Any deal that they come up with must encourage proper medical care, and recognize the needs, abilities, and circumstances of the elderly.

And before anyone gets on my case, let me say that I know there are many, many, many doctors who are not considered certified Geriatricians or whatever it takes, who have large elderly populations, and are fantastic with them, have a real interest and knowledge of geriatric medicine, and so on. I know tons of you personally. I'm trying to help you here ( as well as the people we both work with) , and make sure you get what you deserve and are encouraged to do what you already do out of compassion, even though you don't get rewarded for it monetarily. Okay?