Integrated care is a well-established concept amongst health policy makers and system leaders in Australia. However it is still considered by many to be a means of improving outcomes and experience of care for older adult populations. Children and young people are often left out of the conversation.
We know that improving life outcomes for children and young people, especially those in our most disadvantaged communities, requires more than meeting their health care needs. Non-medical services such as education, housing and social support are equally important, as is the need to support good family functioning and promote thriving communities. It is clear that community-wide effort and cross-sector collaboration is required if we are to improve child health outcomes and positively impact the health of future generations.
Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CHQ) recognises these challenges and is working at all levels of the system to drive change. As Queensland’s only dedicated tertiary paediatric hospital and health service, CHQ is in a unique position to lead this system change. In addition to delivering the highest quality secondary, tertiary and quaternary level acute care and community-based services, CHQ supports other primary and secondary care facilities around the state. It does this via telehealth, and education and training for providers in regional, rural and remote communities, but also through advocating at a system level for family centred and integrated care, and a population based approach to improving outcomes.
To support its own staff, and those in other organisations, to understand and adopt these concepts, CHQ developed an Integrated Care Strategy in 2018. Within the Strategy, CHQ defines what integrated care means from the perspective of children, young people and families, and articulates the foundations required to achieve this. (See the accompanying case study on the development of the Strategy).
CHQ defines Integrated care as
“…the provision of care in the broadest sense – physical, psychological and social – which is oriented around the needs of children, young people and families, and designed and delivered in partnership with them.
In an integrated system, these needs are met through the coordinated and collaborative working of all providers, irrespective of sectorial, organisational or geographic boundaries.”
The suite of case studies showcased in this newsletter will give a sense of the depth and breadth of integrated care initiatives being undertaken by CHQ in conjunction with our partner organisations. They also highlight the multiple levels at which integrated care must occur: from the system level (see the Our Children and Communities Matter case study), the organisational level (see the Navigate your Health case study), and arguably the most important, the frontline clinician level (see the GPLO and Project ECHO case studies). We hope that you, and the populations of children and young people you serve, benefit through the sharing of them.
Dr Dana Newcomb, Medical Director Integrated Care, Children’s Health Queensland.