Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dental Health Forum

Community Dental Health Program

Health Care Consumers’ Association (HCCA) hosted a Dental Forum at the HCCA offices in Hackett on 7 June.
Karen Jameson, Karen Macdoanld,
Sanja Fokus and Suzanne Eastwood
at the HCCA Dental Forum.

Sanja Fokas (Regional Manager) and Karen Macdonald (IT Manager) from the Division of Surgery and Oral Health Community Dental Health Program, ACT Health, engaged with consumers for a workshop.  The session was faciliattied by HCCA staff member

Karen gave a detailed presentation about the services provided under the Dental Health Program and Sanja spoke about the achievements and successes of the Program.  The presentations were well received and provided a useful overview of the dental services available and how to access them.

The workshop sessions which followed, gave consumers the opportunity to talk about their own experiences and give feedback about the services, providing Sanja and Karen with valuable information and ideas about how to improve dental services and also to make them aware of any shortcomings within the system.

Attendees were asked to comment specifically on the following questions:
1. Is it easy to find information about the Dental Health Program, including contact details?
2. Are you aware of the services that are available at the Dental Health Program?
3. If you have attended the Dental Health Program were you satisfied with the service received?
Health Directorate Staff presenting
at the HCCA Dental Forum

The questions highlighted a number of concerns:

Consumers felt the Dental Health Program needed to be far more widely publicised.  Many people said they were unaware of the services provided under the Dental Program and did not know how to access them.  They were also unclear about waiting times and eligibility.  Consumers felt the Dental Program needed to be far more widely publicised.  They suggested displaying posters in waiting rooms in GP surgeries, hospitals and allied health services; publicising the Program through the school system by providing information to teachers who could pass this on to parents; liaison with disability support agencies, CIT, community housing and St Vincent de Paul; publicising the services via Facebook.

Preventative Care
Consumers were keen that the Program should focus strongly on preventative treatment.  It was important to make consumers aware of dental hygiene and that thorough teeth cleaning formed part of every routine dental check. Sanja said there were currently two hygienists in the Civic Clinic and hygienists would also be on the staff at the new Belconnen Clinic.  She said ACT Health were keen to emulate the Canadian model of preventative dental care, which was the best in the world.

Including dental hygiene and care on the pre-school curriculum was suggested as a means of teaching children how to look after their teeth and gums, which was likely to reduce oral health problems in adult life.

Aged Care Facilities
Concerns were raised about the lack of dental care in aged care facilities.  COTA had been lobbying for a mobile clinic and Sanja said ACT Health was investing in a mobile unit, which would make regular visits to nursing homes.

Priority for the poor and homeless
Consumers felt it was important that priority be given to the poor and homeless community.  The Salvation Army referred clients to the Dental Program – last year 51 clients were referred by the Salvos.  Consumers felt communication with similar organisations would be very beneficial.

Record-keeping and contact with clients
Concerns were raised about how the Dental Program monitored its waiting lists, client contact details and appointment times.

It was felt that it was important that the Dental Program should be fully integrated within ACTPAS (the ACT Health, Patient Administration System).

Sanja Fokas and Karen Macdonald welcomed the opportunity to talk to consumers and undertook to use their feedback to help to improve the Community Dental Health Program in the ACT.

Copies of the presentations will be sent to those attending the workshop.

HCCA and the Community Dental Health Program look forward to hosting another Dental Forum in the next six months to talk about developments in the Program and discuss lessons learned from this session.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What is the National Access Program?

The ACT Government is currently involved in large scale clinical redesign and health service planning to underpin an ambitious capital works program. This is a significant body of work for and has great potential to bring about structural changes to clinical practice, and to improve efficiencies as well as health outcomes for consumers. HCCA is committed to working with the Government to provide independent, effective consumer input in the developing solutions to intractable.

In April 2010 the Council of Australian Governments agreed to sign the National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement. The reforms outlined in the Agreement are designed to drive major improvements in service delivery and better health for patients, whilst equipping the health and hospital system to serve the Australian community into the future.
The agreed reform program will change health funding. This funding will be linked to health performance targets, known as the National Access Targets
They are:
• the 4 hour access target - 95% of all clinically appropriate presentations to emergency departments will have been assessed, treated and either admitted, transferred or discharged within 4 hours of arriving at the emergency department.
• the elective surgery access target – 95% of all people accessing elective surgery should be admitted for surgery within clinically recommended times.

To meet these targets, ACT Health has established the National Access Program to develop and implement the required structures and processes within hospitals in the ACT. The goals of this program of work are to support the delivery of safe and effective care for patients, regardless of the hour of the day, aiming to have the right person in the right place at the right time to meet these targets.

HCCA has received funding for a Consumer Coordiator to work with policy makers and clinicians to ensure consumer perspectives are included in this work.

Monday, June 6, 2011

ACT Walk-in Centre

The Walk in Centre celebrated its first anniversary a few weeks ago.

13,420 people have presented to the Walk-in Centre over the last 12 months, seeing on average 40 patients per day and over 250 a week. Of this, nurses at the clinic have treated around 10,000 people.

There has been media around the perception that the walk in centre has increased the presentations to the Emergency Department at The Canberra Hospital.  Of this the  Minister said:
Around 20 per cent are referred to general practice, and the numbers referred to the emergency department are changing as the walk-in centre develops and matures. It has been hanging around six to seven per cent. I understand in the last few months it has been about 3½ per cent.

HCCA spoke to the ABC about this issue recently.  There are details on the ABC website including an interview Darlene Cox did with ABC Canberra presenter, Alex Sloane.

There was discussion in Budget estimates in May about the cost per patient.  The Minister responded:
The advice I have is at the end of March the average cost was around $120 per patient. Obviously, as they are seeing more patients, their costs are coming down. In comparison, the cost of treatment of someone in the emergency department is in the order of $400. I think it is a useful measure to have a look at cost, but if we provided that as the only way of working out whether anything is a success, we would not do a lot things in the health system, I can tell you.

The Hansard for Budget Estimates for 18 May 2011 is available on line as a pdf.

HCCA is very supportive of extending the walk in Centre model to the Community Health Centres in town centres. This is an aspiration of the Government.  The Government is building capacity for walk-in centres in the Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin Community Health Centres.