Clinician Connect

Yarning to make health decisions together

31 Oct 2022 Reading time approximately

Finding Your Way is a shared decision making model created with mob, for mob. Learn how it can be used by Aboriginal people and their healthcare providers to yarn and make health decisions together.

The Finding Your Way model describes a holistic two-way process that helps guide shared decision making between Aboriginal people and their healthcare providers. It was originally developed to help Aboriginal people make informed decisions about the COVID-19 vaccinations, but it is now being used for all health-related decision making.

Aboriginal artist Belinda Coe created the artwork for the model. Its eight inner circles represent the core elements of shared decision making from a cultural perspective. In each circle, there is a prompt for yarning about health decisions.

Finding Your Way shared decision making model.

When it comes to health treatment and care choices, it is important health professionals signal when there is more than one option and invite Aboriginal people to yarn and participate in the decision making process. Aboriginal people can indicate what is important to them on the model and you can both start yarning about that point.

“Finding Your Way guided the discussion regarding better understanding and communication between clinicians and our Aboriginal community members during the pandemic,” says Ro Stirling-Kelly, Cultural Lead for the Mid North Coast Local Health District COVID Care in the Community Team (secondment role).

"The visual prompt provided the foundation for person-centred individual care, with cultural considerations for our community members, during a challenging time. It allowed us to maintain cultural safety while care was delivered via telehealth and virtual platforms."

Ro Stirling-Kelly, COVID Care in the Community Team, Mid North Coast Local Health District

New resources to explain the model

Two new animated videos have been developed to help the community and health professionals use the model. They will be used in education sessions to explain how:

  • Finding your way tells the story of a person’s journey, starting at the beginning, but choosing different paths as people walk through country
  • the model’s interconnected circles and tracks create different pathways and are broker points for shared decision making
  • the shared decision making process is about developing a connection between Aboriginal people and health professionals, and building trust through yarning, safely and respectfully.

“The model is grounded in culture and the videos help explain this,” says Catherine Kostovski, Yuin woman and Project Officer, Aboriginal Chronic Care at the ACI. “The outer and inner circles help anchor conversations on what is important to someone. For example, sometimes we as Aboriginal people have family and kinship duties that are more important than making a medical decision then and there.”

"One of the eight inner circles prompts yarning about this, so everyone involved in the decision making understands it is okay to take a break and think about making a decision later."

Catherine Kostovski, Project Officer, Aboriginal Chronic Care, Agency for Clinical Innovation and Yuin woman

Catherine also narrates the videos, continuing the commitment to ensure the model and support resources are made by mob, for mob.

Expert panel to inform knowledge building

An expert panel involving Aboriginal health workers and practitioners, Aboriginal community members, people working in the NSW health system and researchers, will come together to help us better understand what other knowledge and skills are needed for people to use the Finding your way model effectively.

To join the expert panel, please express your interest by 11 November 2022 by contacting:

The influence of 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning

The 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning framework helped bring Aboriginal and western knowledge together for the Finding Your Way project. This included using traditional processes of yarning, deconstructing and reconstructing evidence-based resources for shared decision making in a local NSW context; and the use of Aboriginal art including symbols and images to communicate the eight core elements of shared decision making from a cultural perspective.

The project team continues to use to the 8 Ways framework as they produce new resources, such as writing pads and printed yarn cards, and develop more ways to implement use of the model.

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