Tauranga Hospital clinicians are advising elderly people to stay away from the hospital if at all possible this winter – not because they don't want them to get well, but because they want them to stay well.
“The medical world has realised that having elderly people in hospital is not good for them. Coming into hospital is the quickest way to decondition someone who is elderly and frail,” says emergency department clinical director Dr Derek Sage.
Elderly people who are admitted to hospital may also find they are discharged and sent home as soon as possible.
“This is not about kicking them out because we need the beds,” says Derek. “Elderly people are better off at home with the appropriate support in place than in hospital. The last thing we want is elderly people being deconditioned, getting worse and having a longer trip back to good health.”
Despite the best infection control efforts of clinicians, hospitals are full of sick people so it is best not to be exposed to them at all, says Derek.
“Also, when elderly people come to hospital they become a patient in the truest sense, often sitting in a chair not doing anything for themselves. At home, they will walk around and do things for themselves, conditioning their brain, conditioning their joints, and conditioning their muscles.”
If you are unsure what sort of medical treatment you require you can phone your GP for advice. All Tauranga GPs are now linked to an after-hours teletriage service where a registered nurse can offer advice on the best course of treatment, whether that be a visit to a pharmacy, an after-hours medical centre or the emergency department.