Category 7 - Excellence in Partnering with Consumers and Carers
Finalist: Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Service, WA Country Health Service (Wheatbelt)
Project: The Boodjari Yorga Program
The Boodjari Yorga (meaning "pregnant women" program) is designed to reduce pregnancy and birth problems for Aboriginal women in the Wheatbelt region. It began in 2004, adapted from a similar program in the Great Southern. The program employs five midwives across four Wheatbelt districts, along with Aboriginal Health Workers and even an Aboriginal Grandmother Liaison Officer. Early participants were recruited through a door-knocking and word-of-mouth approach and it is now well established in the community.
The program is centered on providing holistic care for the whole family, with the mother being at the centre of this care. Services may involve home visits by the midwife and/or Aboriginal Health Worker or travelling with the first-time boodjari yorgas to the local pathology clinic for their blood to be taken.
Over the years since the program was incepted, the districts have seen a reduction in overdue immunisations among Boordjari Yorga clients, even dropping to zero in some areas for the first time on record. Women participating now have higher haemoglobin and iron levels resulting from the iron supplements and nutritional education they receive. A further beneficial outcome of the program is increased awareness of the requirement for safer car travel for babies and children.
Earlier this year twelve Boordjari Yorga expos were held around the region, especially targeting pregnant women and those with babies up to six months. The expos were opened with Welcome to Country ceremonies and presented a range of displays, DVDs, self-care and medical screenings.
Finalist: Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Mental Health Service in partnership with Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Mental Health 'Guidance Group', both of the South Metropolitan Mental Health Service within the South Metropolitan Health Service
Project: PaRK Mental Health Consumer and Carer Participation
Since the 1990s consumer and carer representation, underpinned by a Consumer Participation Policy, has guided the direction of the Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Mental Health Service (PaRK).
The service employs two peer support workers and one carer consultant who share their lived experience of mental illness with their peers. Consumer and carer representatives have places on all relevant committees. The consumer/carer voice has guided a number of changes in PaRK; for instance, key-locks have been installed on the doors of inpatient rooms and patients given their own keys. An assessment tool for carers, formerly called the "Carer Burden Scale" has been rebadged to "Family Assessment" following consumer representative feedback that the term "burden" did not promote hope and recovery.
This model for consumer and carer participation is becoming influential outside of PaRK. For example, members recently presented the model at the National Mental Health Conference in Cairns. Consumer and carer representatives have also been assisted to apply for $17,000 in scholarships from the Mental Health Commission. These funds have been used to contract Murdoch University's Executive Education Centre to individually tailor a course for PaRK's consumer and carer representatives: "Essentials of Effective Communication and Engagement." This three-day workshop was designed in consultation with PaRK's management as well as with members of the Guidance Group. This workshop has the potential to be rolled out to other consumer and carer representatives in WA.
Finalist: Chronic Condition Self-Management Program of the WA Country Health Service in partnership with the Chronic Conditions Consumer and Carer Health Networks Group, the Health Consumers' Council and Elephant Productions
Project: Self-Managing Your Long-Term Condition - a Film for Consumers
A literature review completed by the WA Country Health Service found a gap in information for consumers with long-term health conditions. In 2010 work WACHS commissioned Curtin University's School of Nursing & Midwifery to conduct research and development for the film, engaging consumers to inform the script for a film designed to help consumers learn more about how to self-manage their chronic conditions on a daily basis. Focus groups and telephone interviews were held in country WA (recruited through a lung support group in Bunbury) and in Perth via the WA Health Consumers' Council.
A production company was contracted, a shooting script was developed and the produced program was distributed for consultation with the research team, consumers and health professionals. The resulting resource encourages consumers to talk to their GPs and other health care providers about strategies for more effectively managing physical, mental, emotional and physical aspects of living with a long-term condition in everyday life.
The film is the only resource of its type in Australia. Copies have been purchased for use in training programs in Queensland and New South Wales. It contains chapters on What Is Self Management All About?; Fitting Out Your Home; Transport Tips; Eating Well; Mental Wellness; Managing Your Medications; Lifestyle; and the 5 Step Plan To Good Self Management.
All the processes of genuine consultation, collaboration and inclusion undertaken in this project are readily transferrable to other areas within WA Health.