BACKGROUND: As healthcare and longevity improve and fertility rates decline, we see a demographic shift towards a predominantly elderly population. Because ageing brings its own physiological changes and complications, the need arises for practical and feasible approaches in providing the healthcare required by this population. With government strategy promoting enhanced community-based healthcare, the development of primary care infrastructure should reflect population needs. AIMS: To describe the profile of older patients attending a general practice in an underprivileged urban setting, specifically initial medical presentation, referrals for secondary care, and the medicines prescribed to them. To thereby enhance our understanding of the primary care requirements of elderly people in this setting. METHODS: The anonymised records of an older patient cohort (n = 427, age >55 years) that presented to a General Practice over a 12-month period were retrospectively analysed to determine the nature of the clinical encounters, subsequent referral patterns and drugs prescribed. RESULTS: There were 3,448 discrete clinical encounters (mean = 8.0 per patient), predominantly for respiratory conditions, leading to 401 issued scripts and to 216 patients being referred for secondary care. Women were referred more often than men. There was a notable need for specialised dietary advice and drug prescribing was often complex. CONCLUSION: This study provides evidence of primary care needs in an economically deprived area of an Irish city highlighting the complexity of associated prescribing and secondary care referrals in this setting.
University of Limerick ->