Innovative health service making a difference on West Coast

Press Release – Westcoast DHB

An innovative service that helps people navigate their way through health and social services continues to go from strength to strength, with client numbers doubling in four years.21 December, 2011

Innovative health service making a difference on the Coast

An innovative service that helps people navigate their way through health and social services continues to go from strength to strength, with client numbers doubling in four years.

The service initially commenced as collaboration between the West Coast PHO, West Coast DHB, the Buller West Coast Home Hospice Trust and the Cancer Society as a three year pilot in 2008, specifically to help cancer patients and their whanau in the community.

Following the pilot, the West Coast PHO expanded the service to include those with long term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. In four years, the number of patients has gone from 56 to 125 annually, and the number of visits/contacts from 828 to 2025.

Health Navigator Co-ordinator Danielle Smith says the four health navigators on the Coast essentially act as “brokers” to help people access health services and the social support they need.

“Mostly this is removing barriers such as lack of transport, or problems with what we call health literacy – people just struggling to understand what they are being told about their condition or treatment. We will attend specialist appointments with a patient, and have a discussion with them afterwards; to ensure they are clear about the information they’ve been given.

“Transport can be a real issue. A person might not attend an outpatient appointment, not because they forgot, but because they have no way of getting there.”

One of the keys to the success of the service is that it is easy for GPs to refer to it through their patient management systems. “We’ve got a really good uptake with local GPs, and because the navigators feed back to them, it gives them trust and confidence in our service”.

The service works collaboratively with a number of other non-government organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Cancer Society, as well as with the DHB.

“What we’re aiming to do is to empower people and enhance their ability to self-care so that they can be more independent, rather than more dependent. We broker the services for them; get them back on their feet, then step back. ” Danielle said.

ENDS

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