Towards better recognition of allied health professionals’ perspectives on the nature of their role in a Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) unit

Ms Farnaz Khoshmanesh1, Professor Yvonne Wells2, Associate Professor Tracy Fortune3, Dr Tamara Tse4

1Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Australian Institute for Primary Care & Ageing (AIPCA),La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 3Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 4Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Background
Previous studies have identified the comprehensive role allied health professionals play as part of the multidisciplinary team working in Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) units. Although the significance of the role of allied health professionals has been acknowledged, their perspectives on the nature of their role have not been comprehensively described. This study aimed to address this gap.

Methods
Four allied health professionals (an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, a social worker, and an allied health assistant) working in the GEM unit of a metropolitan hospital in Melbourne participated in a semi-structured interview about their practice. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using conventional content analysis.

Findings
Participants’ activities fell into five major categories: (i) assessment of GEM inpatients’ functional, physical, cognitive, and environmental status; (ii) physical rehabilitation; (iii) environmental modification; (iv) educating patients and carers; and (v) discharge planning. Cognitive and behavioral needs were identified as issues that cannot easily be managed and addressed in the GEM unit.

Conclusion
Although allied health practitioners conduct a comprehensive geriatric assessment of GEM inpatients, their main focus is on patients with physical needs. Our findings highlight a gap in service provision and raise questions about the changing purpose of GEM units.


Biography:

Farnaz Khoshmanesh is a final-year Occupational Therapy Professional Doctorate candidate at La Trobe University and an Occupational Therapist. Her research is focused on improving the efficacy of Geriatric Evaluation and Management units (GEM), geriatric rehabilitation, the role of allied health professionals in geriatric rehabilitation, and occupational therapy.

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