Deakin Rural Health

Workforce

Access to Allied Health Services Pilot
The Access to Allied Health Services Pilot project evaluated a new primary care referral model designed to increase consumer access to allied mental health professionals. The project was a collaboration between the GGT UDRH and the Geelong and Otway Divisions of General Practice and was completed in 2005.

Allied Health Recruitment and Retention

Recruitment and retention of allied health professionals are significant issues in the Barwon South West region of south west Victoria. This is evidenced by a number of indicators including hard to fill long-term vacancies and high staff turnover. This project looked at effective and sustainable strategies to recruit and retain allied health professionals and was part of a series of initiatives by the GGT UDRH and its partners to address allied health workforce issues in the region. The project was completed in June 2006.

Allied Health Workforce Enhancement – Physiotherapy Locum Pilot

Recruitment and retention of allied health professionals are significant issues in the Barwon South West and Wimmera regions of south west Victoria. This is evidenced by a number of indicators including ‘hard to fill’ long-term vacancies and high staff turnover. Factors influencing poor recruitment and retention rates include feelings of professional isolation and lack of career opportunities. Allied health professionals who work in sole positions and in more remote areas are particularly disadvantaged (for example, in accessing continuing professional development).

The well-established shortage of allied health personnel in rural and remote areas of Australia requires effective and sustainable strategies to recruit and retain allied health professionals. This project was part of a series of initiatives by the GGT UDRH and its partners to address allied health workforce issues in the region.

The main objectives of this project included:

  1. Addressing workforce recruitment and retention issues of allied health staff in the Barwon South West and Wimmera regions
  2. Maintaining the position of a part-time academic Senior Lecturer, part-time locum physiotherapist for the Barwon South West and Wimmera regions and allowing physiotherapy staff within these regions to access this locum support
  3. Developing strategies for recruitment and retention of allied health staff within these regions

This project was completed in December 2006.

Chronic Disease Management Models as Examples of Organisational Developmental Approaches in Primary Care

During 2008 Professor James Dunbar and Professor Prasuna Reddy travelled to the United States visiting medical faculties, public health institutes and private health research and consulting organisations at the University of Washington, Dartmouth College, Harvard Business School, Indiana University School of Medicine, the Institute for Family Health New York, University of North Carolina, Kaiser Permanente Colorado and RAND Corporation. Their visit was aimed at increasing understanding of organisational development (OD), its practice and its effectiveness in optimising the primary health care workforce. They found convincing evidence of OD’s use in the general economy and for its contribution to chronic disease management and improvement in quality and safety.

Contribution of Organisational Change to Optimising the Workforce in Primary Care

This project systematically reviewed the evidence that organisational development contributes towards achieving organisational priorities and performance in primary care. The review considered the evidence of the utility of organisational development in comparable healthcare systems – Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – and placed that evidence in an Australian context. Recommendations on how this evidence could be implemented, based on the views of policy-makers and the end-users in primary care, were made.

Evaluation of the Cardiac Services in South East South Australia

This project identified current cardiac services and service gaps and made recommendations to the South East Regional Health Service (South Australia) regarding the delivery of cardiac services in the region.  In particular the report addressed gaps in service delivery with reference to primary prevention of heart disease; acute and specialist cardiac services, secondary prevention and cardiac rehabilitation.

The report was prepared by a collaborative including the GGT UDRH, the Flinders University Rural Clinical School, the Integrated Cardiac Assessment Regional Network, the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Flinders Medical Centre (Adelaide, South Australia) and local clinicians on behalf of the South East Clinical Senate.

The report was completed in December 2005.

General Practice Hospital Integration Pilot

This project examined the integration of health services for people from small rural and remote communities (RRMA 5-7) who travel away from their community and primary health care provider to a distant regional (RRMA 3) or metropolitan (RRMA 1-2) hospital to receive the acute care that they need. The report informed the development of an evidence base which helps identify successful and sustainable strategies in the delivery of integrated care to people living in rural and remote areas whose medical treatment requires admission to a hospital in a regional centre or a metropolitan area.

This project was completed in May 2005.

Obstetric Survey – Rural and Urban Victoria

This survey of the obstetric workforce in rural and urban Victoria was undertaken in collaboration with Western District Health Service in Hamilton, Victoria. The study collected data on three main groups of medical practitioners that were considered highly likely to be involved in obstetric procedural practice.

Organisational Developmental Approaches in Primary Care

During 2008 Professor James Dunbar and Professor Prasuna Reddy travelled to the United States visiting medical faculties, public health institutes and private health research and consulting organisations at the University of Washington, Dartmouth College, Harvard Business School, Indiana University School of Medicine, the Institute for Family Health New York, University of North Carolina, Kaiser Permanente Colorado and RAND Corporation. Their visit was aimed at increasing understanding of organisational development (OD), its practice and its effectiveness in optimising the primary health care workforce. They found convincing evidence of OD’s use in the general economy and for its contribution to chronic disease management and improvement in quality and safety.

Primary Health Professional Education: Current Models and Barriers to Participation

This study identified important considerations for continuing education (CE) for community pharmacy and subsequently made recommendations for the development of an ideal model(s) of CE for community pharmacy. Based on the findings of this review, a number of key issues in the development of an ideal model of CE for community pharmacists in the Australian context were identified and a number of recommendations around planning; delivery and assessment of CE were proposed.

This project was completed in 2005.

Region of Choice: Barwon South West

Attracting and retaining allied health professionals in rural areas is a worldwide problem. A range of different factors have been associated with recruitment and retention of the allied health workforce.  Factors that impact on recruitment and retention are of significant concern in the Barwon South West region of south west Victoria. In many instances where there are allied health vacancies, other allied health areas subsequently experience extra workload due to requests to assist with patient management elsewhere.

This project built on the work undertaken in the Allied Health Recruitment and Retention project by:

  1. Pro-actively collaborating with key stakeholders to develop and implement allied health recruitment and retention strategies and services in the Barwon South West region, including the development of a regional allied health workforce strategic plan and a marketing strategy to assist with recruitment to the region
  2. Working with Department of Human Services – Victorian representatives from other Victorian regions in the development of a centralised allied health vacancy register
  3. Analysing the effectiveness of allied health recruitment and retention initiatives implemented within the region

This project was completed in 2008.

South West Victorian Allied Health Survey

This survey of allied health professionals working in the Barwon South West region of Victoria, collected baseline data on the demographics of the region’s allied health workforce and looked at the factors which affect a professional’s choice of work. In particular, the study examined the relationship between working in rural areas and previous exposure to living in a rural area. Recommendations were made relating to the recruitment and retention of allied health professionals.

Student Tracking

The Student Tracking Project examined whether undertaking a rural or regional clinical placement influenced a student’s decision to subsequently take up work in a rural or regional area. This research examined whether there is an association between rural student placements and subsequent work choices; identified factors that influenced a student’s choice (or non-choice) of working in a rural area and identified factors which impacted on recruitment of health personnel to rural and regional locations.

This type of research is important because it helps identify those factors that improve the experiences of students undertaking rural placements and also provides information that assists in recruiting and retaining health professionals in rural and regional areas.

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