I’m writing this blog following a week’s visit to the NSW Central Coast by our friends and colleagues from IFIC Australia and IFIC. These times are strongly valued by our Local Health District and partners because they provide the opportunity to educate our teams, reflect on our integrated care journey to date and to plan the next steps. They also create a means to pique the interest of potential partners in care, to bring them to the table to discuss our shared populations and to create momentum for change.
One of the central pieces of work that we have undertaken with IFIC over the past year is the formative evaluation of our Integrated Care Program. The University of Newcastle (UoN) evaluation team, led by Prof David Perkins and Dr Hazel Dalton, developed the evaluation framework based on Project INTEGRATE, a four-year multi-country study examining best practice for Integrated Care in Europe. As part of this, UoN engaged the international expertise of IFIC’s Dr Nick Goodwin, Dr Viktoria Stein and Prof Anne Hendry. The result has been so much more than the final evaluation report, which we are in the final stages of reviewing. We’ve been encouraged and educated, as the likes of Anne, Nick, David and Hazel have been able to reflect our successes and help identify places where we need to grow. The evaluation process saw the development of the Project INTEGRATE evaluation framework, which will become an extremely useful assessment and self-assessment tool for people to think about their thinking, to reflect on their program strengths and where to direct future resources and attention. This was a key theme of our discussions with IFIC last week: how do we take the learning from this evaluation to plan for the future.
The other exciting milestone I’d like to share with you is the launch of the Integrated Care Search Filter. Central Coast Local Health District partnered with IFIC, UoN and Flinders Filters to develop a dedicated search engine for integrated care which is now live on the IFIC website at https://integratedcarefoundation.org/ific-integrated-care-search.
It was our Local Health District’s Library Manager, Suzanne Lewis, who first identified to the team how difficult it can be to search the literature on integrated care and how a specialised search filter could really help in supporting research and education for integrated care. IFIC were a keen partner here and it’s been delightful to see how they could bring together a panel of international experts to inform the development of the search filter as well as provide it with a long-term home on the IFIC website. The search filter is something that I can see providing a lasting benefit to anyone that is interested in researching integrated care. For us on the Central Coast, this is doubly important as we look to create a medical school and research institute based on integrated care.
So, where to from here? We’re three years into a ten-year journey of changing the way we deliver health and social care on the Central Coast. Our region has a number of vulnerable populations and communities that require the focussed attention of partners, working together to improve the wellbeing of these people and their families. We’ll increase our focus on the mental wellbeing of children under 12 and the continued improvement in our support for those with complex and chronic health needs. The work of building coalitions, co-designing solutions with these communities and implementing those solutions in a joined-up way will continue.
Michael Bishop is Acting Executive Manager with the Central Coast Integrated Care Program, and will be a presenter at ICIC18, the 18th International Conference on Integrated Care in Utrecht, Holland, in May