Integrated Team Care (Closing the Gap)

Historically, the Closing the Gap Strategy arose from the Closing the Gap Campaign, which was a campaign designed to increase the profile of the findings of the Social Justice Report of 2005 by the then Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma. The campaign gained traction through support of the community, and supported by over 40 organisations. The campaign began as the National Indigenous Health Equality Campaign, which was formed in March 2006 by these organisations:

  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
  • National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)
  • Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA)
  • Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM)
  • Indigenous Dentists' Association of Australia (IDAA)
  • Oxfam Australia
  • Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR).

The Coalition of Australian Governments in 2007 had committed to a strategy named Closing the Gap and had designed National Partnership responses as a result.

Integrated Team Care is one of four responses by the CTG Strategy: Tackling Indigenous Chronic Disease developed through the Coalition of Australian Governments and funded through the Indigenous Australians Health Programme.

The Chronic Disease Package of the Closing the Gap Strategy currently incorporates the following:

  • Practice Incentive Programs for GPs
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme- CTG
  • Specialist Outreach Programs
  • Integrated Team Care Activity  

ITC is formerly the Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Health Program and Care Coordination and Supplementary Services Program. Both programs have been integrated to deliver a coordinated team approach.

The purpose of Integrated Team Care is to:

  • Contribute to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic health conditions through better access to coordinated and multidisciplinary care; and
  • Contribute to closing the gap in life expectancy by improved access to culturally appropriate mainstream primary care services (including but not limited to general practice, allied health and specialists) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There are three main resources which deliver this purpose across country South Australia and includes:

Care Coordinators

  • Are qualified health workers and registered nurses.     
  • Work with their clients to assist in accessing all the care needed to improve health.
  • Help clients arrange appointments with doctors and other health care providers.
  • Work closely with GPs to develop treatment plans for clients.
  • Link in with other health care and support workers to make sure services are coordinated.
  • Provide information about chronic conditions and other health concerns.
  • Attend appointments with clients.
  • Help with accessing medications.
  • Can access funding to help clients receive the health care they need in a timely way.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers

  • Provide practical assistance to Aboriginal people to attend appointments and access health services.
  • Assist the Care Coordinators to support patients with their health assessments/care plans.
  • Establish links with local Aboriginal communities to encourage and support the increased use of health services.
  • Liaise with health providers including GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers and administrative staff to support referral pathways.
  • Assist to develop and distribute information and resources to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community about available health services.

Indigenous Health Project Officers

  • Promote Closing the Gap to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities and health service providers.
  • Work with mainstream primary health care providers to deliver culturally sensitive primary care services.
  • Increase uptake of Indigenous specific MBS items, including Indigenous health checks and follow-up items.
  • Advocate for clients in the health system.
  • Coordinate cultural awareness training.

There are a range of information and resources available to assist in improving mainstream services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Cultural Awareness Training is available through your local service providers delivering the ITC program. Please contact your local provider to access this assistance.

There are some things that can your Practice can do to start moving your Practice to one that is culturally responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient needs which have been completed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care will be updating the standards required of health care providers in 2018. In these standards, Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People will be undertaken and will affect accreditation processes in the future. For more information please go to Improving care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Overview: Guide to better care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consumers (Word 503KB)

  1. Setting safety and quality goals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in health service organisations (Word 576KB)
  2. Cultural competence in caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers (Word 421KB)
  3. Improving identification rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers (Word 397KB)
  4. Creating safe and welcoming environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers (Word 408KB)
  5. Effective and safe communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers (Word 417KB)
  6. Comprehensive care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers (Word 419KB)

Need more assistance?

Talk with your local Indigenous Health Project Officer in your region on some of the things your Practice could do to improve culturally responsive services.

There is a list of MBS Items available for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and Primary Health Care Providers who deliver services to Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander people from the Department of Health. MBS Online also provides information on specific MBS items.

 

 

 

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