People with disability deserve equitable healthcare, no matter where they live. Health providers working in rural and remote communities strive to reduce the barriers to healthcare access that often exist. This health inequity is magnified for people with disability. Barriers to healthcare access for people with disability include unavailable services, ineffective communication, unmet healthcare needs, lengthy wait times, cost, physical access, unconscious and conscious bias, assumptions, and discrimination.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of people with disability found health professionals often lack access to continuing professional development (CPD) on disability awareness. Funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), CheckUP have developed an online disability awareness course that earns CPD points and supports health accreditation standards. Access for All (AfA) was developed in partnership with people with disability, regional, rural and remote health providers (with and without disability), First Nations People and disability advocacy organisations. Access for All assists health providers to understand that healthcare access barriers extend beyond physical access, and to appreciate their role in reducing these barriers for people with disability in rural and remote communities. The online course also provides practical strategies and useful resources to assist in improving the accessibility of health services.
Over 1360 health providers have registered to complete AfA. Decisively positive feedback indicates an increased awareness about the barriers people with disability experience when accessing healthcare. And a recent evaluation of AfA confirmed these anecdotal reports with a statistically significant improvement in disability awareness among health providers. Furthermore, as a result of the strategies and resources provided in AfA, health service delivery improvements have been reported. This was also substantiated in the evaluation, with 97% of health providers reporting their intention to improve their health service provision and reduce healthcare access barriers for people with disability.
Feedback from health providers who have completed Access for All includes:
- "Excellent course. I particularly enjoyed the cultural modules. We sometimes forget many people have not left their own communities and how frightening a clinical area full of strangers can be. I loved the course. Thank you." (Registered Nurse, Queensland Health).
- "Opened my mind and I will definitely be able to improve my service to patients with disabilities after this course." (Optometrist, Remote Queensland).
- "Valuable training. I appreciated the specific tips throughout." (Occupational Therapist, Rural Queensland).
- "The course is full of practical stuff that impact on the day-to-day management of health conditions. It is probably the best online course I have ever done." (Outreach Endocrinologist).
If you’d like to learn more about Access for All, go to https://checkup.org.au/what-we-do/online-training/access-for-all/