Digital health collaboration with outreach services being trialled to support better health outcomes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness
An innovative collaboration between Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WentWest), Healthily, Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation, Mission Australia, Salvation Army, Parramatta Mission, Evolve Housing, Western Sydney Local Health District and local councils will trial the use of tailored digital health and wellbeing packages sent via SMS by outreach services to people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
The digital health and well-being initiative is being piloted in the Western Sydney region to address health risks and barriers to accessing health services, and support better health outcomes. The project has been commissioned by Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WentWest) and delivered by health technology and education specialists Healthily in partnership with local outreach services.
The initiative is designed to improve the confidence, knowledge and skills of people across priority health and wellbeing concerns, and connect them to relevant local health services, supports and treatment options.
Commenting on the pilot, Marrin WeeJali’s Services Manager Melinda Bonham said, “Housing and outreach services are in a unique position to identify and support their clients with helpful health and wellbeing information and resources, and connect them to relevant services. We welcome the opportunity to explore innovative digitally enabled solutions designed to support our workers to provide evidence based, engaging and relevant resources that empower clients to take a more confident and active role in their wellbeing”.
The Digital Health Toolkits have been developed to address five priority health areas including mental health, infectious disease, oral health, chronic disease and alcohol and other drugs. Using the GoShare platform the Toolkits are sent to a client’s mobile phone by their outreach worker. Each Toolkit includes relatable lived experience videos, animations, culturally appropriate helpful resources and links to local services relevant to the needs of the client and catering to their health literacy. A specially tailored COVID-19 information package has also been developed for this cohort to support them during this critical time.
WentWest’s Senior Director Strategic Commissioning, Michelle Quinn said, “This pilot will help us understand how we can engage and support important outreach services to integrate the provision of digital health information as part of their service delivery. Ultimately, we are aiming to address some of the barriers to accessing health services by building their health literacy and confidence to self-care, and helping to connect this vulnerable group with appropriate local primary care services”.
Parramatta Mission’s Operations Manager Angela Daynes said, “It is so valuable to give reliable health information in a range of ways in our work supporting homeless or those at risk of homelessness. This platform makes it easier for us to access and send credible, timely and relevant resources that address our client’s needs including lived experience stories that encourage support seeking behaviour. This digital intervention can be a very helpful first step to connecting them to relevant and accessible face to face supports. It has been fantastic to have the capacity to send tailored COVID-19 information in different languages to our diverse clients”.
Kelli Browne, Healthily’s Director Strategy and Partnerships added, “Given the growing evidence supporting the value of lived experience stories in improving confidence and self-efficacy, and the relatively high rates of smart phone use amongst people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, we are excited to explore the opportunity to use digital health to reach and engage this group in a very tailored and personalised way.
The pilot will run until May next year with a report on key learnings due at the end of this year.
Healthily specialises in patient education – developing tools, content and programs to empower patients to take a more active role in their health. In partnership with peak health organisations, Healthily has created the most extensive library of patient and carer experiences across a broad range of chronic conditions and wellness topics. Using Healthily’s GoShare web-based application, health professionals can easily customise bundles of health resources, selected from thousands of fact sheets, patient stories (videos), animations, apps and tools, and deliver the “information prescription” to their patient via email or SMS. Through its GoShare technology, Healthily is working with many of Australia’s health services and Primary Health Networks to support patients to better self-manage their health. https://www.healthily.com.au/
Katie Paynter, Healthily, 0417057243