Concurrent Speakers

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Louise van Herwerden
The Country Kitchens Program: creating capacity through partnerships to improve nutrition
Biography

Louise van Herwerden graduated with a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics from Deakin University Victoria in 1996 and has over 20 years' experience in community and public health nutrition. Louise has coordinated a wide variety of public health nutrition projects, including for the Victorian Public Health Nutrition Unit, Department of Heath (Healthy Eating in Juvenile Justice Centres) and Sentinel Site for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University (‘Romp & Chomp: healthy eating for under 5’s’). Since then Louise moved into health promotion coordination, guest lecturing at various university institutions and transitioned into academia permanently in 2013, when she moved to the Sunshine Coast and developed public health nutrition units and lectured for the University of the Sunshine Coast Dietetics Course. Louise is currently working as part of the Monash University Evaluation Team for QCWA Country Kitchens Program. Her role involves collecting data to measure project outcomes, particularly focusing on evaluating capacity building in community interventions. In her free time Louise is a busy mum with three children and enjoys the beach, hiking, camping and dreams of being stuck on a deserted tropical island for a few weeks—alone!

Abstract

Capacity building has been defined as an approach to the development of sustainable skills, structures, resources and commitment to health improvement in health and other sectors to prolong and multiply health gains. It increases the range of people, organisations and communities who are able to address public health problems, and in particular, problems that arise out of social inequity and social exclusion. The Queensland Country Women’s Association Country Kitchen program aims to build the capacity of the Queensland County Women’s Association in partnership with local branches to promote healthier lifestyle behaviours in rural, regional and remote Queensland. The focus of the program is on developing food skills to support increased daily consumption of fruit and vegetables. The program aims to engage 64 communities in hands on cooking sessions and 16 with other activities—a total of 80 communities. Through working in partnership with local communities the QCWA Country Kitchens Program is assisting local communities to identify their health priorities and the factors that influence their health outcomes.  The outcome being that each local community implements a health program suitable to the needs of the community. This presentation will outline the key strategies within the intervention and report preliminary findings from a mixed method, case study evaluation of six communities that aims to describe the capacity gains associated with this rural population intervention targeting food literacy. The evaluation of the program will guide future community interventions to improve the health and well-being of communities and reduce chronic disease.

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Sarah Venn
Rollout of the NDIS in Queensland: observations from the field
Biography

Sarah Venn is the Health Workforce and Services Planning Manager at Health Workforce Queensland. Sarah is a registered nurse and has 19 years’ experience in the health industry working in clinical, project and program management positions within the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Sarah’s project management role provides the opportunity for first-hand consultation with rural communities all over Queensland and she enjoys working with individuals and organisations that advocate for and work towards sustainable health services and workforce solutions. Her experience working in health policy and planning as well as education and training, has directed her ongoing passion for working innovatively and strategically to improve health outcomes in rural and remote communities, including addressing the inequity of access to vital services and resources. In her spare time Sarah enjoys being a mum of two and attempting house renovations.

Abstract

The rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) heralds a major change in the way support is funded for people with a permanent disability in Australia. In Queensland the initial transition sites in Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island commenced in 2016, with the rollout continuing until 2019. By January 2017, new sites out west to Mt Isa and up to communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Mackay, and from Toowoomba out west to the Queensland border will have commenced.

In October 2016, Health Workforce Queensland conducted an exploratory study in the initial sites of Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island to investigate the early NDIS experiences of practitioners and organisations working in the Primary Health Care (PHC) sector. The study investigated the impact of the establishment of the NDIS on the broader PHC workforce in these areas and examined the extent to which cross-sectoral planning and service design was occurring to meet consumer need.

Following on from this, information was gained through purposive sampling and structured interviews with PHC service providers in the later trial sites to capture their experiences of the establishment of the NDIS.

As the NDIS rolls out in Queensland, strategies need to be employed to meet the cross sectoral planning and service modelling required to best support remote, rural and regional communities. This study will add evidence to support the wider remote and rural PHC workforce through the changing disability service delivery environment by highlighting successful and less successful experiences that can be used in later rollout sites to underpin the development of integrated service models.

Recommendations provided will respond to the implementation challenges practitioners working in the PHC sector have faced, and will provide strategies to develop integrated service and workforce plans and responsive service delivery models for new NDIS participants in remote, rural and regional Queensland.

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Jacqui Verdon-Meyland
Regional collaboration in educating our present and future allied health workforce
Biography

Jacqui Verdon-Meyland’s professional career began in community based organisations program development and coordination in a rural community in Northeast Victoria. After graduating as a Social Worker from La Trobe University 1994, Jacqui was employed by Northeast Health Wangaratta as a Social Worker, she worked in both clinical and leadership roles in subacute, acute and community based services, and Clinical Social Worker;  Team Leader of Social Work services and Manager of Sub Acute services. Jacqui is currently a Clinical Educator and Team Leader of Interprofessional Transition to Practice program in the Education and Research Unit at Northeast Health. Jacqui has experience in the facilitation of clinical leadership, facilitation of hospital-based vocational and education programs and leads a team of medical, nursing and allied health educators facilitating undergraduate and doctoral clinical placement, Interprofessional graduate programs and postgraduate health care courses. Jacqui’s commitment and passion for education and research has lead to her pursuing Masters Education (International) CDU. Jacqui is proud to have been the foundation chairperson of the Hume Region Allied Health Education and Research group and will hold this position again in 2017.

Abstract

This presentation describes the establishment of an innovative, collaborative regional health education network in 2012, and the achievements, sustainability and future of the group. The Allied Health Education Group’s (AHEG) founding principles came from the State Government Health Priorities Framework 2012 – 2022: “Develop collaborative approaches that support health services to deliver the necessary professional education, training and support in partnership with others to reduce unnecessary duplication of effort”.1 The regional health area, one of five in the State, covers 40,000 square kilometres. The well-established regional Allied Health Leaders Council identified a duplication of effort and a lack of coordination of education activities for allied health staff across the region and, in May 2012, established a subcommittee to ‘discuss, develop and move forward with the development of an allied health education coordination group’.2 Health services in the region (4 large, 13 sub-regional and rural, and 3 stand-alone community services) nominated ‘skilled and interested staff members’ to join this sub-committee.2 State Government Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recognised the workforce development value of the group and provided secretariat support. The inaugural meeting was held in June 2012. Membership included representation from all levels of health services in the region, and seven allied health disciplines working in acute, subacute, community and mental health services. By the end of 2012, the group had: supported the first allied health clinical student placement planning day held in the State; established a collaborative, structured approach to regional education and research activities and resources; completed an Education and Training survey for allied health staff in the region; and gained Continuing Professional Development funding from DHHS to implement a Leadership Training Program in 2013. The group has continued to develop and become financially sustainable, achieving successful funding applications and education activity sponsorships. Since 2013, AHEG has successfully conducted: Leadership Programs (2013, 2014); Regional Allied Health Conferences (2013, 2015); repeat Education and Training survey (2014); Clinical Supervision training (2014, 2015); Patient-Centred Communication presentation (2015) and a region wide Allied Health Graduate Support Program (2015). AHEG has addressed issues of limited resources for allied health education and training through a strong collaborative approach to minimise duplication and share innovation, and developed partnerships with education fund holders in the region including the local Region Nursing and Midwifery Education Group. Planned ongoing opportunities include Advanced Leadership workshops (2016) and an innovative regional Allied Health, Nursing and Midwifery Conference (June 2017).

References: (1) Victorian Health Priorities Framework 2012-2022: Rural and Regional Health Plan, page 64; (2) Minutes, Regional Allied Health Leaders Council Friday 4 May 2012.

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Melissa Vernon
The virtual consumer voice: connecting with country consumers online to improve services
Biography

Melissa Vernon is the Chief Operating Officer of Strategy and Reform for the WA Country Health Service. She has an extensive background in health-related leadership and executive positions in country WA with a mix of private, public and university academic and clinical roles. Melissa is particularly focused on:

  • consumer and community driven health service reform
  • addressing inequity of health service access and service improvement through a range of service reforms, particularly telehealth and innovation
  • strategy that reflects innovation and service improvement
  • leading telehealth into the next phase as a significant enabler of improved service access.

In recent years she has received the Health Consumer Council Award for Excellent Service to Consumers, the Director General of Health Award for Community Engagement in Health and the Australian Public Sector Medal.

Abstract

In December 2015, the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) began a one year pilot project across three of its regions to implement Patient Opinion, as an accessible, anonymous, and independently moderated online avenue for country consumers to share their health care stories: good and bad. Because of its public and "social" nature, the Patient Opinion platform also provided WACHS with the opportunity to enter into more personalised and open dialogue with consumers and publicly demonstrate how it listens to and acts on the experiences, insights and perspectives shared by consumers in this way.

Using examples of stories shared by WACHS consumers on Patient Opinion, examples of WACHS responses to those stories, and project data, this presentation will explore the success of Patient Opinion as a tool for country consumers to share their health care experiences, and for our health service to listen, learn and improve from the experiences of our vastly dispersed consumer populations.

The presentation will demonstrate the important role of our network of 21 District Health Advisory Councils (DHACS) - volunteer consumer representative/advocacy groups - in establishing and promoting the project. The DHACs have been strong advocates for the use of social media and other online technologies and innovations to engage with country consumers. If a health service is not engaged online, but its consumers are, it loses the ability to remain responsive to its consumers’ experiences in a timely way. It is important to have multiple avenues for consumers to have a voice and be heard within our organisation.

The project has highlighted the role that patient stories can play in the evaluation of health services as well as engaging staff to understand the need for consumer-centred care. The human voice of the story can be a powerful motivator for service and culture change and can draw attention to what matters most to people about the care they receive. While our traditional, formal, and periodic feedback and evaluation methods such as annual patient surveys and complaints forms/systems are useful, they may not address the aspects of care that are most important to the consumer.

Based on the success of the pilot project to date, the remaining five WACHS regions will join the project in early 2017.

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Melissa Vernon
Southern Inland Health Initiative delivering significant improvements in health care and infrastructure
Biography

Melissa Vernon is the Chief Operating Officer of Strategy and Reform for the WA Country Health Service. She has an extensive background in health-related leadership and executive positions in country WA with a mix of private, public and university academic and clinical roles.
Melissa is particularly focused on:

  • consumer and community driven health service reform
  • addressing inequity of health service access and service improvement through a range of service reforms, particularly telehealth and innovation
  • strategy that reflects innovation and service improvement
  • leading telehealth into the next phase as a significant enabler of improved service access.

In recent years she has received the Health Consumer Council Award for Excellent Service to Consumers, the Director General of Health Award for Community Engagement in Health and the Australian Public Sector Medal.

Abstract

The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) has long been acknowledged for its response to challenges in delivering health care services across a large and disparate regional, rural and remote area. Prior to 2011, the southern inland region of WA experienced significant emergency and acute service access and patient safety issues. These issues were compounded by diminishing activity in multiple small hospitals, often with facilities that were no longer suitable.  

From 2011 the WA Government, Royalties for Regions program, committed over $0.5 billion for WACHS to improve access to emergency and health care services under the Southern Inland Health Initiative (SIHI). The SIHI program includes a targeted medical and clinical workforce emergency and acute service improvement program, the redevelopment and building of new hospital and health centres and a range of telehealth and primary care services to increase access and care coordination in the southern inland region of WA. Medical incentives to ensure coverage of district hospitals 24/7 built on the GP model have significantly influenced recruitment and retention.

In June 2016, the program reached its fifth year and has been recognised for delivering significant improvements in telehealth and in person emergency services and acute care, primary care and health infrastructure. Learnings have shown that a networked approach to delivering emergency services and acute care using a combination of onsite and virtual clinical resources is effective, appropriate, safe and cost efficient. The delivery of emergency and acute services through Telehealth is delivering safe, contemporary care and builds capacity through education and support that saves lives and reduces workforce stress and staff turnover. This model is the basis for expansion of many acute and non-acute services within WA, nationally and internationally.

Improvements in emergency services and health can be attributed to: increased doctor availability that has stabilised emergency care; the Emergency Telehealth Service and use of technology; increased medical leadership; clinical resource and governance improvements; together with 24/7 emergency cover by doctors. Services are more accessible, safer, higher quality and consistently able to meet the standard of care prescribed by Australian and State health policies.

The program has resourced increases in community based health services bringing care closer to home and helping people avoid hospital. These include GPs, midwives, Nurse Practitioners, Telehealth access to specialist outpatient appointments, antenatal, stroke, cancer, chronic conditions and diabetes management. The SIHI program continues to be implemented to improve emergency services and health care for country residents.

Slides
Melissa Vernon
Emergency Telehealth Service—innovative model of emergency care for rural Western Australia
Biography

Melissa Vernon is the Chief Operating Officer of Strategy and Reform for the WA Country Health Service. She has an extensive background in health-related leadership and executive positions in country WA with a mix of private, public and university academic and clinical roles. Melissa is particularly focused on:

  • consumer and community driven health service reform
  • addressing inequity of health service access and service improvement through a range of service reforms, particularly telehealth and innovation
  • strategy that reflects innovation and service improvement
  • leading telehealth into the next phase as a significant enabler of improved service access.

In recent years she has received the Health Consumer Council Award for Excellent Service to Consumers, the Director General of Health Award for Community Engagement in Health and the Australian Public Sector Medal.

Abstract

Geographically, the Western Australia Country Health Service (WACHS) is the largest area health service in Australia, covering 2.55 million square kilometres. Dispersed populations and regional isolation challenge access to specialist medical care and in particular specialist emergency medicine (EM).

The Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS) aims to deliver accessible, quality EM to country WA Emergency Departments (EDs) using the telehealth modality and Consultant Emergency Physicians (FACEMs).

High definition video conferencing equipment, installed in participating EDs enables ETS to deliver accountable, timely EM – supporting patient management in 75 rural EDs seven days a week. ETS doctors activate and control the equipment in response to a call for assistance ensuring local clinicians are hands-free to care for their patients.

  • An innovative model of care places specialist Emergency Physicians ‘in the room’ with rural clinicians and patients, where normally only a nurse or a GP would be available. ETS delivers services to 76 sites.
  • Improved transfer co-ordination with efficient appropriate referral.
  • ETS has demonstrated the capacity to deliver improved access and outcomes for rural emergency patients.
  • Enhances local clinician capacity, enabling better management of high acuity patients, supporting professional development and reducing professional isolation.
  • Enhanced community confidence, reinforced by positive patient feedback.
  • ETS has delivered over 34,000 consults with 76% of patients treated and discharged home, demonstrating the ability to manage a variety of clinical cases.

Effectively pioneering a new service delivery model for emergency medicine, ETS has raised the clinical standard of patient care in rural hospitals and contributed to country GP workforce sustainability. ETS has introduced improved EM clinical governance, best practice and clinical leadership that is generally only available in metropolitan EDs.  ETS is repeatedly and positively referenced by local communities, clinicians, and health consumers as a valuable addition to the delivery of emergency care during times of fiscal restraint.

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