06 September 2023

Pre-assessment action plans are available for respiratory infections in aged care home residents and those in the community at higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19 and influenza.

The action plans aim to facilitate timely access to antiviral medicines for residents should they test positive to COVID-19 or test positive or be exposed to influenza.

Following consultation, the NSW Health anti-viral pre-assessment forms were recently re-designed as “action plans” and now capture additional information regarding prevention, testing and treatment of acute respiratory infections.

The re-designed forms can be found through the following links:

Pre-assessment action plan for respiratory infections in aged care facility residents

This pre-assessment should be completed by the resident’s regular doctor (supported by the facility’s registered nurse) at time of admission or health assessment and reviewed regularly. The pre-assessment supports prevention and testing of respiratory pathogens and access to antiviral medication for residents in aged care facilities.

Pre-assessment action plan for respiratory infections

This pre-assessment supports prevention and testing of respiratory pathogens and access to antiviral medication for adults who are at higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19 and influenza. The pre-assessment should be completed by the person’s regular doctor before the person tests positive for COVID-19 or influenza. It may also be used for people who are travelling interstate, internationally or on cruise vessels to support decision-making for antiviral medicines.

06 September 2023

GPs across South Western Sydney can refer to the care finder program using this one-page referral form available as a PDF, or templates for Medical Director and Best Practice.  

The aged care system and My Aged Care can be difficult to understand and navigate especially if a person has: 

  • communication and language barriers
  • difficulty processing information due to cognitive decline
  • reluctance to engage with a need for support
  • reluctance to engage with government services

Some older Australians need extra support to navigate the aged care system and use My Aged Care, but do not have family, friends, a carer or a representative they are comfortable with, willing and able to help them access services and supports.

Care finders provide tailored, intensive face-to-face support.  

SWSPHN has commissioned six organisations to employ care finders and Triple I to provide a centralised intake service. Triple I allocates referrals to the most appropriate care finder organisation, which then contacts your patient.  

Find out more
15 August 2023

Dance classes in Bowral are helping people with Parkinson’s Disease ‘loosen up’.

Occupational therapist and dance teacher Margaret Connor holds Loosen Up – Prancing for Parkinson’s at Baptist Church Hall, Merrigang Street, Bowral, on Thursdays from 1.30pm to 3pm.

It includes 60 minutes of guided movement with music plus discussion, education, socialising and coffee.

The classes are for Wingecarribee residents.

People with Parkinson’s: $10; carers, friends, family: no charge.

Find out about the program's benefits
07 August 2023

State-wide Referral Criteria (SRC) are clinical decision-support tools which give health professionals the referral criteria they need to refer their patients to public specialist outpatient services across NSW.

SRC helps people who need to see a health professional in a NSW public specialist outpatient service be referred and prioritised in a safe and timely way.

They support patients and the health professionals looking after them to make a referral and assist NSW public specialist outpatient services with screening and triaging these referrals.

Please visit the NSW Health website for more information.

26 June 2023

Dementia Australia will be holding a Carer Wellness Program for carers looking after someone living with dementia, at sites across South Western Sydney in July and August.

The one-day group session is designed to support positive health and wellbeing outcomes for a carer, family or friend of a person living with dementia.

The free program will be held at:

Bargo Community Hall, 96 Radnor Road, Bargo on Thursday, 20 July, 9.30am to 3pm.

Find out more

Bryan Brown Library, Room 1, 80 Rickard Road, Bankstown on Friday, 28 July from 9.30am to 3pm.

Find out more

Liverpool Catholic Club, 424-488 Hoxton Park Road, Prestons on Friday, 18 August from 9.30am to 3pm.

Find out more
10 May 2023

The strong focus on primary care, with the tripling of the bulk billing incentive and investment in the health workforce to better meet the health needs of the Australians in the 21st century, were among the welcome features of Tuesday’s Federal Budget.

South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Kristen Short, said there was little doubt primary care had been struggling in recent years, with fewer practices in a position to bulk bill, further highlighting the need for strong and ongoing funding commitment for the sector.

“The $3.5 billion committed to bulk billing incentives, $98.2 million for new Medicare rebates for patients who require consultations of longer than 60 minutes and $445.1 million to support team-based care in general practice, are welcome measures to support the revival and protection of a healthcare system which has served us well for decades,” she said.

Other investments of interest to primary care, in particular general practices in South Western Sydney include:

  • $358.5 million for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics
  • $143.9 million for after hours primary care
  • $91.5 million to improve mental health by addressing workforce shortages

Ms Short said SWSPHN had a particular focus on innovative projects like iRAD, the New to General Practice Nursing program and My Care Partners to build capacity and support our general practices in delivering accessible, effective and timely care to our community.

She noted investment in digital health ($951.2 million); increasing the number of nurses in primary care ($10.7 million); and increasing incentives for general practices to employ a range of health professionals to provide team-based primary care ($445.1 million) would support those projects which were already improving the health of our region.

“Primary care is the cornerstone of our healthcare system, and SWSPHN looks forward to continuing to work with and support primary care providers across our region on the projects, services and other activities funded in this budget.

“We particularly welcome the focus in the budget on multidisciplinary team care and voluntary patient enrolment and look forward to seeing how it complements our local medical neighbourhood model of care, My Care Partners, which has been working for the past two years to reduce avoidable hospital admissions and enhance care coordination for people with multiple chronic diseases.”

19 April 2023

SWSPHN will highlight the importance of National Palliative Care Week with the official launch of our Dementia and Palliative Care Directory at Rydges Campbelltown on Monday, 22 May.

Palliative Care Week, 21 to 27 May, aims to assist Australians learn about the many benefits of palliative care. This year’s theme puts Matters of Life and Death front and centre in our communities’ consciousness, highlighting that ‘people at the heart of quality palliative care’.

Our Dementia and Palliative Care Directory, a Peace of Mind project initiative, uses local, state and national services to guide families, carers and people living with dementia from diagnoses to end-of-life care.

It is available as a webpage on our website and as a downloadable, interactive pdf.

If you’d like to attend the launch, please register.

Register for launch
03 April 2023

A new face-to-face service which connects vulnerable older people with a variety of aged care and other services, provides guidance in navigating the My Aged Care system and does regular check-ins with clients, is now operating in South Western Sydney.

South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) has funded six “care finder” services across the region, which will focus on the specific needs of their communities.

Care finder service providers in South Western Sydney include:

  • CatholicCare Sydney which covers all of South Western Sydney with a particular focus on older people at risk of homelessness (131 819)
  • Catholic Healthcare which covers Campbelltown Local Government Area (LGA) (1800 225 474)
  • Multicultural Care Limited which covers all South Western Sydney LGAs with a particular focus on Hindi and Vietnamese communities (9718 6199)
  • Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre which covers all South Western Sydney LGAs with a particular focus on Arabic and Assyrian communities (8778 1200)
  • EACH social and community health which covers Camden, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee LGAs (1300 003 224)
  • Benevolent Society which covers Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool and Campbelltown LGAs (1800 236 726)

The care finder services are a Commonwealth-funded aged care initiative, and part of the government’s response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care’s recommendation for more localised and face-to-face support to help people navigate access to aged care services.

Through the program, older people are assisted to find services and support which is right for them and considers their individual needs. The care finder organisations complement the existing My Aged Care single entry portal.

Care finder services are intended for senior Australians who need intensive support.

This includes non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 65 and over, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 and over. Those eligible for the service may be isolated, have communication barriers or trouble processing information.

According to SWSPHN’s 2022-2025 Needs Assessment, in 2021 there were 148,072 older adults living in South Western Sydney.

It is expected the number of people aged 65 years and older will reach up to 220,620 by 2031, an increase of 49 per cent. The growth in the next 15 years is expected to be particularly significant amongst those over 85 years of age (an increase of 92 per cent) with an additional 14,660 people.

The most significant increase in the older population in the next 15 years will be in the Macarthur region: Camden (181.5 per cent), Campbelltown (83.1 per cent) and Wollondilly (81.9 per cent) LGAs; followed by Liverpool LGA (94.9 per cent).

SWSPHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, said the care finder services were vital to ensuring members of our growing ageing population were able to access aged care services and other relevant community support.

“We’ve worked with our community – including consumers, carers and aged care providers – to design services which support the specific needs of older adults in our region, and we’re thankful to all those who shared their valuable knowledge and input during forums and via surveys,” he said.

“Care finder services will have a particular focus on those who are vulnerable, and are at greatest risk of falling through the cracks. This includes people who are not yet receiving aged care services, as well as those who are.

“The program aims to improve the health of our older people by improving participants’ understanding of aged care services and how to access them, and improving coordination of and connection to aged care and other services they may need.”

There are four ways for South Western Sydney residents to apply for care finder services.

  • Call and speak to any of the commissioned care finder service providers
  • GP referral: A GP may decide care finder services are needed and submit a referral on behalf of the patient
  • My Aged Care: A My Aged Care assessor may decide whether care finder intensive support is needed and apply on the person’s behalf
  • Call Triple I centralised intake to discuss a referral to a care finder service in your area (1800 455 511)

Visit our website to find out more about how care finder services can help and how to access those services.

21 March 2023

Working with aged care providers and people living in aged care homes has always been a labour of love for nurse and owner of The Practice Bundanoon, Jessie Beresford.

Jessie tells us about her passion project in this edition of Spotlight on General Practice.


Why did the team at The Practice begin working with the local aged care facility to assist the community to access better healthcare?

Jessie Beresford

As a manager at a local aged care facility, current practice nurse and practice owner, Jessie (pictured right) found her passion and drive for improving health outcomes for residents of residential aged care homes in the region.

Still working in Wingecarribee, but moving into primary care, continuing this care was a no brainer for Jessie and her practice staff.

As well as going into aged care facilities, The Practice has taken on more than 20 new patients who are residents in aged care homes locally, to provide a deeper level of care. This trust and ongoing commitment to continuity of care has allowed for a number of changes to take place in this area.

What does this involve?

One day a week, on a Tuesday afternoon, Jessie will visit the local aged care home to chat with residents about their health. These sessions can include anything from discussing patient care plans, blood pressure checks, mental health checks or simply chatting with residents to let them know what options they have during this time of their lives in regard to ongoing care and support.

This support helps to take the burden off registered nurses working at aged care homes who are often overworked and simply don’t have the resources available to take the extra time to chat with residents.

Why is the work to support this community important? And what has this achieved?

An advocate for aged care, Jessie believes it is important to let older people know what they are entitled to and what their options for care are as they age. Families, carers and patients should have all the necessary tools to guide the older person through their later stages.

Information is available online and sometimes at general practices or libraries, but it’s about knowing what is useful and what can help the patient to make informed decisions about their own health and the care they wish to receive is vital. Visiting the aged care home allows for this transfer of information and having patients cared for at The Practice allows for continuity of care.

Further supporting her work at the aged care home, Jessie’s role as a practice nurse is to ask the important questions during her over 75s health checks for all patients around this age: Do you have a Will? Do you have a Power of Attorney? Have you got a next of kin? And so on. It is important to make sure these documents are up-to-date and easily accessible prior to the patient being placed in an aged care home.

Through this care, residents living in Wingecarribee are given the autonomy to make their own decisions about their care and what they would like to happen as they age. Carers and families are given peace of mind and the tools to ensure the best outcome.

What is the biggest challenge of the role and how can it be overcome?   

A lack of funding. The role is essentially being a liaison for the person, or the conduit between them and the right care plan for now and in the future. The work is time consuming and not everyone in the region can be cared for due to these constraints.

The care doesn’t end after the information session ends at the aged care home – there is a lot of follow-up with phone calls, emails and check-ins taking place for each individual.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a practice nurse and facilitating care for such a diverse population?  

Knowing older people are safe, this includes the reassurance and increased knowledge for the older people, their families and their carers.

What is the best way to educate people living and working in aged care facilities about the importance of maintaining good health?

Communication and education for families, working with the deputy managers at aged care homes to assess the needs of people living in the area each week.

Education typically consists of assisting with the next stages, including where to refer the patient, wound management, palliative care management and behaviour management.

16 March 2023

Navigating the world after a dementia diagnosis is often a tricky and daunting task for families, carers and people living with dementia.

SWSPHN has compiled a Dementia and Palliative Care Directory using local, state and national services to guide families, carers and people living with dementia from diagnoses to end-of-life care.

The directory is available as a webpage on our website and as a downloadable, interactive pdf.

Among the wealth of services and resources available through the directory is information about:

dementia booklet

  • Advance care planning and directives
  • National care services
  • Support groups
  • Doulas
  • Dementia specific activities
  • Transport services
  • Food services
  • Bereavement counselling services

This directory was developed as part of SWSPHN’s Peace of Mind project (POMp), funded under the Commonwealth Greater Choice for at Home Palliative Care measure.

POMp aims to improve the end-of-life journey of people living with dementia, their carers, families and health professionals, through the implementation of education, information and resources for community.

A hard copy of the directory will be available during Advance Care Planning Week, 20 to 26 March, in the Southern Highlands and Campbelltown.

The Dementia and Palliative Care Directory is available:

  • Monday to Friday at Wingecarribee Shire Council, Civic Centre Customer Service Desk, 68 Elizabeth Street Moss Vale. The Customer Service Desk display will include the new Palliative Care and Dementia Directory, the A journey into Sorry Business booklet and other information from SWSPHN about advance care planning.
  • Wednesday, 22 March at an information stall at Oran Park Library, 72 Central Ave, Oran Park, between 10am and 12pm.
  • Thursday, 23 March at an information stall at HJ Daley Library, 1 Hurley Street, Campbelltown, between 9.30am and 11.30am.