CEO update

MelissaNeal_1.jpg

We have had a busy couple of months since my last update, since then we have launched and progressed valuable resources, programs and projects.

As part our work in palliative care, our Compassionate Communities program aims to create communities and a proactive social approach to death, dying and bereavement, by working with both communities and healthcare providers. The aim is to facilitate greater choice for at home deaths. We have recently commenced a telehealth trial with five general practices in Young, Cootamundra, Tumbarumba, Corowa and Hay. We are also running a series of four workshops to educate, mobilise and empower carers to access the supports available.

We have been working closely with our GPs this past month to support the implementation of the Quality Improvement (QI) incentive which will commence on 1 August 2019. The incentive is designed to encourage improvements in quality care, enhance capacity, improve access and improve health outcomes for patients. It aims to recognise and support practices that commit to improving the care they provide to their patients, and we have been pleased to be able to support our practitioners in understanding this new change.

We were pleased to participate in a joint meeting with Rural Doctors Network and Murrumbidgee Local Health District in mid-July providing the opportunity to discuss current challenges across the region and future opportunities for joint work.

This week we welcomed Dr Walid Jammal (Hills Family Medical Practice) and Dr Kirsten Meisinger (Cambridge Health Alliance in Boston) to Wagga Wagga to host a session for GPs, GP registrars, practice managers and practice staff titled Excellence in Practice. Investment in Care. The event was attended by more than 55 people, with 20 general practices represented on the evening. The main message was around a vision for change and using data for continuous quality improvement, a fundamental underpinning of quality and safety in healthcare. The session was recorded and will be available shortly if you were unable to attend.

Earlier this year, we commenced a review of how we fund allied health services across the region to understand the allied health needs of the community and this identified important considerations for allied health service delivery across the region. As a result we will be adopting a new approach designed to improve the overall wellbeing of at risk or vulnerable people of Murrumbidgee communities. Our new Murrumbidgee Wellness and Resilient Model of Care will also aim to better support the allied health workforce creating a strong network between providers. We are nearing the end of the tender process for this, and will keep people informed of how this is progressing when updates are available.

This week, as part of our LifeSpan program, we commenced this year’s first Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) training for year nine students. This year we have an additional 12 schools completing the training which will reach 1,600 young people in our region bringing the total to 2,500 who will have completed YAM. We are also about to issue an Expression of Interest to all schools in our region to undertake activities for RUOk? Day in September. There is $1,000 available for these activities, so please encourage schools in your area to submit an EOI.

We have continued to provide support for drought affected communities across the Murrumbidgee region. The Empowering Our Communities initiative has seen more than $700,000 in community grant funding approved, with grant activities reaching more than 12,000 people in our region. We launched our mental health diaries and with the support of several agricultural businesses, these are being distributed through shopfronts at Ag and Vet, Hutcheon and Pearce, and Rabobank, and via local councils, Local Land Services (Riverina and Murray), NSW Farmers, the Rural Financial Counselling Services, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, and Murrumbidgee Local Health District. The uptake and feedback we have received about the usefulness of this resource, especially in helping reduce stigma has been overwhelming. Please get in touch with us if you would like a supply of the diaries. This week we launched our Tell it Well stories from eight people living in our region who share their experiences with mental health and wellbeing in times of drought. The stories aim to inspire people living with the impacts of drought to seek support, letting them know they are not alone. We know stories can help start conversations and this can drive help-seeking behaviours in relation to mental health and wellbeing. You can read all the stories here.

What we have noticed from much of the community initiated work, particularly through the community grants, is the power of supporting activities driven by what the community know they need to support their health. It’s an approach we are undertaking in partnership with the MLHD and two of our communities – West Wyalong and Deniliquin. To date we have started working together to really understand the specific health needs, issues and concerns. Local committees are being formed to gather this information and the group will help priorities the needs and look for possibly solutions which could be facilitated through existing supports available to MPHN and MLHD. It’s a new approach and we hope to see some positive results over the next 12 months.

Debbie Angel