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The Innovative Model of Care Warren Blackwood (IMCWB) Program (2022-2026) is
funded through the Australian Federal Government Innovative Models of Care
(IMOC) Grants Program.
Over the course of the funding period, we will develop a Model of Care supported by Clinical Care Coordination to improve access to and increase integration and collaboration of primary health care for people who are at risk of poor health outcomes in the Warren Blackwood Region of WA.
The Model of Care will enable client centred care in a primary health care setting, facilitate seamless integration of health services and support timely and appropriate access to GPs. The model will ensure continuity of care, sharing of relevant information and ongoing communication between health, welfare and social support services.
So far we have undertaken Stakeholder Consultations in January and more recently Community Consultations. This will provide us with a broad understanding of the needs of service providers and community members, identify the gaps and work across the board to make primary health care more accessible and create efficiencies in the system.
A series of community consultation meetings were held in each of the four Shires during March 2023 to gain an understanding from community members (as the main clientele of service providers in the region) around access to and experiences of health care in the WB region.
Feedback was received from 84 individual community members through the community consultation process. They were asked to discuss experiences around access to, and experiences of health care within the WB region. They were also asked what was needed to improve health outcomes of people living in their town or in the WB region.
As expected, primary health care services are scarce and services that community members were used to – like visiting GPs to smaller towns, have all but vanished now as practices become busier in their town of origin. Participants across the WB region said there are not enough local health services and residents have to travel considerable distances to access support.
Community members are not averse to seeing nurse practitioners or other allied health professionals, however, these services are also scarce and they commented that coordination is lacking. Affordability of services was also mentioned as a key barrier and the tyranny of distance along with regional isolation exacerbates the problems experienced by a generally ageing population.
Telehealth is available, but connectivity is unreliable and staff need additional training to work it more effectively.
Community members mentioned that they have identified preventative measures as a key priority to ensure health is maintained for longer. They wanted to be healthier for longer and to stay in their homes as they age. They felt that access to education and prevention programs could help them do this.
Throughout this report it is evident that there are significant issues with access to services at all levels. Access to health services is complex and involve consideration of: infrastructure; staffing (affordability, availability, qualifications, experience, etc); demand versus supply; community expectations; logistics; and financial viability.
This program aims to address accessibility, integration and systemic efficiencies. A tall order for four years, but we have a great team and enthusiastic community to work with. Stay tuned and keep following us for regular updates.