A student-led service model to improve the health and wellbeing of older adults in East Arnhem

Strengthening older persons’ services in East Arnhem

Older persons from remote Aboriginal communities experience disabling consequences of chronic diseases at a disproportionally higher rate than mainstream Australians (Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet 2017). Paradoxically, there is limited and fluctuating availability of allied health professional (Battye & McTaggart, 2003) services to support them.

The primary aim of this study is to pilot a student-led service model to improve the health and wellbeing of older persons from East Arnhem who live with the disabling consequences of chronic diseases. The Triple Aim framework will be used to determine health benefits in terms of a) older persons, family and community satisfaction b) health outcomes and c) cost.

The secondary aim is to collect preliminary data on the feasibility of the service model and trial protocol within the remote community context. This project will lead to development of a specific protocol for a proposed fullscale multi-site project across northern Australia.

A student-led interprofessional culturally responsive service model will be co-designed with local stakeholders including Top End Health Service (TEHS), Gove District Hospital (GDH), Laynhapuy and Miwatj Health Services. Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA will strengthbased approach to development of an Aboriginal Co-Worker position. The co-design process will draw on lessons learnt from student-led models in WA, Qld, NT.

Occupational Therapy (OT) and Speech Pathology (SP) students and the Aboriginal Co-Worker will deliver services for older people over a two month period with supervision by an OT living in Gove and SP visiting or via Telehealth. JCU and FNT students, will be prioritized, particularly Indigenous students. Services are likely to include comprehensive assessments, individual or group
sessions within the hospital, home or community and community development activities.

This pilot project, in and of itself, will make a small but meaningful contribution to East Arnhem. The planned full-scale project has the potential to lead to a sustainable model for services for older people living in remote communities of northern Australia.

The project will be guided by Geoffrey Angeles  – Lecturer, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health – Flinders NT. Geoffrey is from Kungarakan ‘Country’  in and around Batchelor/Adelaide River and has ‘Gurindji’ heritage from Darguragu/Kalkaringi. Geoffrey has also ‘Rirritjingu’ adoption through kinship system of Yirrkala/Nhulunbuy region Moiety is ‘Dhuwa’.

The project will be assisted by Kylie Stothers and Dr Narelle Campbell. Kylie is a Social Worker and Workforce development Manager for Indigenous Allied Health Australia. Kylie is a Jawoyn woman, born and raised in Katherine within a large extended family with strong ties in Katherine and surrounding communities. Dr Campbell is a Speech Pathologist and Academic Leader – Engagement and Social Accountability at Flinders, Northern Territory.

  • Kylie Stothers & Associate Professor Ruth Barker

  • Professor Robyn McDermott

  • James Cook University

  • 2019-2020

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