The World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians (WONCA) has called for family doctors to be placed at the centre of the delivery of care for older people.
In a statement, WONCA stressed that the family doctor should be the primary medical care provider for older people, covering the full spectrum of care from health to end-stage frailty, including for those in long-term care facilities.
The organisation said that family doctors are best suited to the role for a number of reasons including their longitudinal relationship with patients, families and communities; the fact that they are trained generalists; and that they are equipped to provide ongoing monitoring of care, with an understanding of many complex psychosocial issues.
WONCA highlighted a number of measures needed in order to sustain this role, including the need to appropriately align all health systems, including healthcare policy and financing, to support older people, family doctors and primary care teams in working with secondary care. It said proactive rather than reactive models of care for older people, aimed at timely identification of frailty and cognitive impairment are also needed.