Core group agrees systemic challenges

Core group agrees systemic challenges

A Health Alliance group working to improve care for people with complex health and social issues who frequently attend emergency departments has reached a shared agreement on the challenges facing the local system.

Since late 2017 the group has been engaged in the Health Alliance process, which has brought together different parts of the sector to reflect on one another’s role and consider new ways care can be provided. 

The group includes representatives from Metro North Hospital and Health Service (the HHS), Brisbane North PHN (the PHN), the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital emergency department, mental health service providers, general practice and non-government services.

Health Alliance General Manager Professor Don Matheson said the willingness of all stakeholders to be involved was testament to their passion for supporting the most hard-to-reach in our community.

“We recognise and acknowledge the improvements in health outcomes already achieved through local projects and the tireless work of individuals who go above and beyond to support people with complex health and social issues,” Professor Matheson said.

“What we’ve heard is that all parts of the sector share common challenges around health service provision, integration and communication between services and the same barriers to delivering holistic care.”

“Reaching agreement on our shared systemic challenges is exciting because it signals an agreed position for considering how to improve our response.” 

To understand the needs and experience of people with complex health and social issues the Health Alliance has also engaged with consumers as well as those who interact with this group outside the health sector including employment and housing services.

One outreach worker involved in the consultation reflected on the challenges in supporting this population group to access the health services they need. They said it can take a long time to build a trusting relationship and understand a person’s needs. Connecting a person to specialist services includes stepping through a number of processes to be referred, and at times, there is a long wait to be assessed. For some people, the only outcome of this process is finding out they have advanced illnesses. 

“It’s heartbreaking, you get them stabilised and then they die.”

The next steps for the core group include working with specialist services to explore ways to improve access for people who experience complex health needs overlaid with social factors. The group are also considering ways care coordination services can be expanded within the community setting, and how GPs who care for this group can be better supported.