When I was 12 years old I worked as a paperboy and there was a guy, Ernie, who lived up the street. He had polio in the past and was in a wheelchair. To make it a bit easier, we used to drop his paper at his front door, rather than leaving it in the letterbox. One day, his wife asked me to come inside and pump up the tyre on his wheelchair. I did. I realised then how much they struggled together.
When I was a medical student, I had another part time job as a disability support officer. I looked after this guy who had autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy. He lived in Government housing with a carer staying with him overnight, every night. I was one of those carers. One morning I heard a massive thump. I came to the living room to find him face down on the vinyl floor having a seizure. Blood gushing out of his mangled bottom lip. I helped stabilise him. He fell asleep. When he came to, I suggested to go to hospital, but he refused. He had a phobia of hospitals. He agreed to go to the local GP, as long as I let him get breakfast first. The local bakery assistant was almost about to faint as I handed a cream bun to the customer in front of her whose bottom lip was kind of falling off. He kept his promise and we went to the GP. I appealed to the doctor to see us urgently. At first he was reluctant, suggesting that the hospital was the place to be. But he came around when I told him I was a medical student. Together we stitched up the bottom lip. All good. For the remainder of that year, I never saw this troubled but trying young man ever see another GP.
I'm a doctor now. A few weeks ago I got called by a lady who wanted me to help her husband who had a bad toe. I went there. Her husband had a severe toe infection, likely to the bone. He'd been to hospital a few times. His life basically comprised talking to his wife from his arm chair, foot elevated on a foot stool. She tended to his every beck and call as best she could. Smiles - all round, ever present. Nurses would visit, family would visit at times, but they didn't have a GP. Why? Because they couldn't visit. They struggled along. Yet - smiles were...ever present. My own schedule was so tight that I did a poor job of visiting. The visiting nurse was lovely. She sent photos of the toe, we discussed things. It never quite made up for just not being able to be their regular home visiting GP, but it was better than not being involved.
For the last 5 years I have tried. I've tried to be there for people who are at home with a disability and for elderly people who desperately want to live in their own home. These people are in significant need of a regular GP, but for various very good reasons, they just cannot make it into the waiting room of a medical clinic. One of these people may live up the road from you, struggling - often times, in silence.
I went on to open a few medical clinics and provide many medical services to patients in nursing homes. However, it never escaped my mind - what about those forgotten people, hanging in there at home? Often trying not to be a burden on society or the system. And I know, for I have seen, that there are in fact - many.
There's been a lot of talk about the NDIS and aged care. However, the fundamental fact is that in Australia, it's incredibly difficult and rare to find a regular GP who visits you during the daytime (I'm not talking about after hours locum services here) in your home. And, this is having a profound impact on the lives of the disabled and elderly who are housebound. These are truly marginalised people and this issue, of having no real GP, is very much the elephant in the room.
And so, the Mobile GP project has been born to challenge this long accepted status quo and serve these forgotten people. Since our company, Atticus Health, knows how to run medical clinics, manage various mobile services, and runs a home care company (Mark & Sylvie's Home Care), we want to be there, for GPs who need help to visit patients at their home. We'll do this by supporting them with reception, administration as well as the needed IT infrastructure, including telehealth, as well as integrating support structures such as skilled nursing through home care. We'll do this by raising appreciation of the important work they do and by the formation of a strong network of like minded doctors are willing to accept this mission. Mobile GP has utmost respect for every GP who involves themselves in this important work and will be there for you!
And, if you are an older person who needs help to live independently at home, or know someone who does, then get in touch. Our purpose is to find you a truly caring Care Manager and GP to fill that void. Connecting people.
2023 update -
The above was written in 2019. Since that time, we have continued to develop Mobile GP, as a long term aspiration. In July 2023, on behalf of the federal government, the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) has been kind enough to support Mobile GP.
Mobile GP will be eligible for people aged 50 (or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged at least 35) at risk of or with chronic conditions.
Together with the NWMPHN, we will be establishing Mobile GP in the following inner city council areas:
Mobile GP will now operate as a team comprising:
Thanks again to the NWMPHN for supporting Mobile GP. We look forward to working with government to support vulnerable older persons.
Mobile GP is a division of
We support using business as a force for good. In keeping with this, Atticus Health is a Certified B Corporation. For more information about Atticus Health and the B Corp movement, please see the about page.
Dr Floyd Gomes