Older persons generally do not present with one ailment (as with the younger generations) but with complex complaints that take time to diagnose accurately which does not happen in the over-burdened state system. And they are expected to wait in long queues, are seldom examined by a doctor and receive no assistance with medication and compliance. They often live in a state of great anxiety regarding their health with constant feelings of being unwell or even pain. If we do not provide sufficient quality primary care interventions, we will not see increases in levels of wellness and quality of life, nor can we expect reductions in emergencies and costs associated with illness and 24-hour care.
The NOAH model of Primary Health Care was developed in 1995 in response to this. Our goal is based on the intentions of the SA Older Persons’ Act, namely to keep older persons active in their communities for as long as possible. Preventing or delaying the onset of costly chronic diseases, and their implications, is critical to achieving this goal.
The NOAH Primary Health Clinics in Woodstock and Khayelitsha are exemplary models of accessible, affordable and first rate primary health care for 468 social pensioners. This is evidenced by the rapidly growing patient numbers, reduced emergencies and reported increases in wellbeing.
The weekly clinics offer a booked appointment at least four times per year and are run by a doctor and NOAH’s Health Manager (a registered nurse) and clinic assistants. Health advice and awareness is offered, and assistance with dietary and medication compliance is ongoing. In addition NOAH provides access to Dementia support.
The state health service channels chronic medication through our clinics saving time and money associated with additional clinic visits and collection of medications. Each clinic has its own bespoke database, the information on which is currently being analysed by Professor Geetesh Solanki.
NOAH has a partnership with the Samson Institute for Ageing research (SIFAR) to improve patient assessments.
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