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Clinician Connect

Updates from our clinical networks

27 Apr 2021 Reading time approximately


Read the latest updates on the people involved and progress made across the ACI’s clinical networks, institutes and taskforces.

  • The network has led the development of the recently published Aged health services model in NSW. It proposes an ideal model for NSW Health to deliver aged health services, with the aim of improving the care of older people. Three different service models are presented. The models reflect different aspects of aged health services in NSW, including tools to demonstrate the current and ideal aged health services requirements. We would like to thank and acknowledge the multidisciplinary input to the resource, as well as the involvement of consumers.
  • We extend our heartfelt thanks to outgoing Network Co-Chair (Nursing) Cath Bateman for her leadership and guidance with both the network and executive group during her years as Co-Chair, and as a key member of the executive and network prior to stepping into the position. Cath’s expertise with dementia and delirium were highly regarded. Her work with the Confused Hospitalised Older Persons (CHOPs) program and Volunteer Dementia and Delirium Care Implementation and training resources are critical to the aged health field. We wish Cath all the very best with her new research position within Southern NSW Local Health District.
  • We warmly welcome Allyson Waird as the Network Co-Chair (Nursing). Allyson is a Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Northern Sydney Local Health District and brings many years of nursing and aged care experience to the network and executive group. We look forward to working with Allyson as the network strives to set its priorities for 2021 and beyond.

Find out more and contact the Aged Health Network.

  • We are delighted to announce that Marina Sarkis returned to the Diabetes and Endocrine Network Manager role on 19 April after a period of parental leave. Marina will return three days a week until December 2021, and the recruitment process is underway for the job-sharing arrangement until the end of the year.
  • We also wish to acknowledge the leadership of Natalie Richards and Jackie Caton who recently shared the Network Manager role. Under their guidance we have continued to support the Diabetes and Endocrine COVID-19 Community of Practice and continue to develop a range of projects including the electronic medical record (eMR) consensus work.
  • March saw the go live of the new statewide Diabetes Related Foot Care HealthPathway. This was a project led by ACI, supported by the Ministry of Health, and was a collaboration between NSW HealthPathways Sydney team, high risk foot service clinicians and the Diabetes and Endocrine Network. The HealthPathway provides guidance to primary health staff to better support and manage the escalation of rapid early care for people diagnosed with active foot disease and/or diabetes-related foot disease and for those at high risk of complications.
  • Training has now been offered to the NSW high risk foot workforce. The first phase of training started on 26 April 2021 with 25 participants. Another two phases are planned over the next six months. The training is interactive and centres around three driving principles; what do we need to know, who do we need to be and how do we transform behaviours and systems in order to be culturally safe and responsive in meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aim is to improve access to mainstream high risk foot services for Aboriginal people, assist in the reduction of hospitalisations for diabetes-related foot disease  and other diabetes complications and enhance both individual and community awareness of diabetes and diabetic footcare.

Find out more and contact the Diabetes and Endocrine Network.

  • To create synergy with current NSW Health policy directions, the Palliative Care Network has changed its name to End of Life and Palliative Care Network. The network will continue to collaborate across the ACI’s clinical networks, institutes and taskforces to drive improvements in end of life care for patients, families and carers.
  • The name change recognises the contribution of the network to end of life care across disciplines and services, including palliative care.
  • In January 2021, Vanessa Evans returned from parental leave and started her new role, as Acting Network Manager for the End of Life and Palliative Care Network. Vanessa works Monday to Wednesday.

Find out more and contact the End of Life and Palliative Care Network.

Trauma verification program

A landmark agreement between the ACI’s ITIM, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and the NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority will provide an opportunity for NSW to become a national leader in the management of trauma care.

The agreement positions NSW as the first Australian jurisdiction to have all its trauma centres (including all regional services) undergo an extensive trauma verification process over the next three years.

The benchmarking process is the gold standard in trauma care and assists hospitals to analyse their systems of care for the patient experiencing trauma. It is based on the principle that all injured patients achieve the best outcome when seen by the trauma team.

Trauma patient-report measures pilot

In collaboration with NSW trauma services, ITIM has commenced the first phase of the Trauma Patient-Reported Measures program at three sites. It involves collecting patient-reported outcome and experience measures using surveys via email and phone, at one, six and 12 months, post discharge. Our next step is to broaden the pilot cohort to an additional three sites.

The pilot program is being used to prepare ITIM and the trauma services for the transition to the standardised HOPE platform in the next 12 to 18 months.

Find out more and contact ITIM.

  • The Mental Health Network has been building the team to better support the mental health needs across the NSW health system.
  • Christina Lowry, Project Officer, started in January 2021 to support the Zero Suicides in Care project. This is one of 15 initiatives in the Premier’s Priority Towards Zero Suicides Program. She is looking forward to working closely with local health districts to develop their specific suicide care pathway. ACI will support local health districts to develop their suicide care pathways using a co-design approach to ensure they reflect both clinician and consumer requirements and needs when accessing care within the local health district for suicidal ideation.
  • Louis Talay joined the Mental Health Network in April 2021 as a project officer. Louis is passionate about mental health and social equity. He will be working on the COVID-19 Virtual Mental Health Implementation Check project. This short-term project will support the Mental Health Branch at the Ministry of Health to obtain in-depth information about the clinical activities and outcomes of the COVID-19 Virtual Mental Health statewide initiative. This will include identifying gaps and opportunities through the implementation of the initiative.
  • Angela Wicks joined the Mental Health Network as a project officer in April 2021. She is passionate about equity, mental health and person-centred care and is looking forward to working on the COVID-19 Virtual Mental Health Implementation Check project with Louis.
  • The Mental Health Network successfully partnered with Melbourne University on the National Health and Medical Research Council special initiative for Mental Health 2020: ALIVE, a national research translation centre aiming to deliver mental health at scale in the primary care setting. This program focuses on partnering with people who have lived experience to change the way mental health care is designed and delivered.

Find out more and contact the Mental Health Network.

Experience-Based Co-Design project

New resources are being developed as part of the Experience-Based Co-Design project to help improve the experience of people who are blind or have low vision when they are in hospital.

A conversation guide, blind and low vision patient resources and staff capability program were piloted by members of the community at three sites: Bankstown, Fairfield and Sydney Eye Hospitals. Feedback from staff and patients revealed the resources are useful for facilitating communication for the provision of individualised care and understanding patients’ needs.

As a result of the pilot, consumers commented on how they were acknowledged and treated as individuals. Staff found the structure helpful in tailoring a specific conversation to understand the needs of a patient who is blind or has low vision.

The final resources are currently being formatted to ensure accessibility for those who are blind or have low vision. They will be available to download from the ACI and Vision Australia websites.

NSW public ophthalmology eye clinics

Information has been updated on the ACI’s Ophthalmology Network web page, to include links to eye clinic referral criteria, templates and guidelines.

Welcomes and farewells
  • After many years as Network Manager for Ophthalmology and Anaesthesia and Perioperative Care, we farewell Sarah-Jane Waller who has taken a permanent position at the Ministry of Health. The executive committees extend their gratitude and thanks to Sarah-Jane’s valuable work, commitment and dedication to improving ophthalmology and anaesthesia and perioperative services; and the support she has given to help shape health initiatives in NSW.
  • We welcome Kerrie Martin as the Acting Manager for the Ophthalmology and Clinical Genetics Networks.
  • Michaela Ward is the Acting Anaesthesia and Perioperative Care Network Manager.

Find out more and contact the Ophthalmology Network.

  • In February 2021, the ACI Pain Management Network hosted an online Brief Pain Management refresher course for eight multicultural health workers who completed their full training more than two years ago. The University of Sydney’s Pain Management Research Institute originally developed the training package and resources and delivered the refresher course. Maintaining the skills of these health workers is important, as they provide an invaluable community-based service to the culturally and linguistically diverse community, helping them to self-manage their chronic pain.
  • In March and April, the Network also hosted a new face-to-face facilitator workshop on Brief Pain Management for 10 multicultural health workers. The program covered the educational and practical training that health workers need to be able to run a community group for those experiencing chronic pain. The cultural groups represented included Italian, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek, Macedonian and Farsi.

Find out more and contact the Pain Management Network.

  • The Renal Network has started testing a carer-reported experience measures (CREMs) survey with carers across a range of sites and clinical areas. The survey is designed to be generic, for use by any service where carers play a critical role in patient care. The purpose of this survey is to explore if renal health services are asking carers the appropriate questions, in the right way.
  • Carer managers from local health districts, the Ministry of Health and Bureau of Health Information are interested in learning how a survey, in a de-identified and aggregated report form, can be used to improve the services offered to carers of patients with chronic disease or traumatic injury.
  • This testing phase will continue until mid-May and clinicians across NSW with access to willing carers are welcome to join in the carer feedback round. Contact the Renal Network if you are interested in getting involved.

Find out more and contact the Renal Network.

  • The Spinal Cord Injury Health Maintenance Toolkit is a comprehensive resource developed to help people with spinal cord injury understand and troubleshoot problems they may experience. The toolkit is split into five modules – pain, bladder, bowel, skin and autonomic dysreflexia. The project was funded by iCare and led by Professor James Middleton, Director of the NSW State Spinal Cord Injury Service, and Dr Mohit Arora from Sydney University. ACI has supported the toolkit by promoting it among our stakeholders.
  • Pressure Injury Prevention and Treatment for Spinal Cord Injured Patients was a two-day course for health professionals held on 4-5 March at Royal North Shore Hospital. The course covered a range of topics, from a holistic multidisciplinary approach to prevention and management of pressure injuries. A wide range of clinicians across the state attended the course and feedback was positive. Experts in the field presented an evidence-based approach which clinicians found to be beneficial. The SCCIS will work with the Clinical Excellence Commission to develop policies relating to transport of people to minimise pressure area occurrence.
  • Danelle Collins, Head of Occupational Therapy at Prince of Wales Hospital, has volunteered to fill the position of co-chair of the SSCIS Clinical Development Committee while Jacqui Cornell is on leave.

Find out more and contact the SSCIS.

Dr James Evans has joined the Stroke Network as Medical Co-Chair. James is a stroke neurologist working as a staff specialist at Gosford and Wyong hospitals and is the Deputy Director of the NSW Telestroke Service. James completed his neurology training in 2016 including two stroke fellowships, one at Gosford Hospital and a year with the Calgary Stroke Program in Canada. He has a specific interest in neurovascular imaging and stroke systems of care implementation.

James is a full-time clinician with a keen interest in service delivery improvement across the acute and subacute stroke patient journey. His role on the Central Coast provides him with an understanding of the multidisciplinary requirements and challenges of a metropolitan stroke service. He has significant exposure to the needs of regional NSW through his role in Telestroke. James is passionate about stroke care and using real time analytics to allow a data driven understanding of care and an active approach towards system improvement.

Find out more and contact the Stroke Network.

Keep up to date on the latest activities across our networks, and get involved in key projects that help drive improvements in healthcare.

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