October 18, 2018

Briana Baass: Staying Well

On a recent humid Darwin day, I sat in a room full of people passionate about health service management, waiting for the final speaker of the Australasian College of Health Service Management (ACHSM) Congress.

It had been a huge week, jam-packed with inspirational presentations, sharing of ideas and the forming of new connections.

The closing keynote was to be delivered by iconic journalist and TV personality, Ray Martin, whose status may have been lost somewhat on the international delegates and those too young to remember his dominance in lounge rooms across Australia.

From the minute Ray commenced talking, he drew his audience into the story of his life and his experience of Aboriginal people in his past and up to the current day.

In much more eloquent phrasing, Ray implored us to simply do better for our Indigenous people.

Ray posed the provocative conclusion that to date, our efforts in truly closing the gap have been shameful. With so many examples across the country of good ideas and passionate well-meaning groups working tirelessly, it was confronting to hear his absolute position on the topic. A position that is quite possibly justified.

When thinking about the diverse and integrated solutions Ray suggested are necessary to really make a difference in this area, it reminded me of our own challenge here at Northern Health, in embarking on a greater focus on ‘Staying Well’.

It may well be a similar list of diverse, yet integrated solutions that we need to consider for our community. A list that is equally unachievable without numerous groups working in partnership towards a shared purpose.

To commence this exciting and indeed worthy endeavour, we ran an ‘Ideas Lab’ session on 4 October 2018 to explore what the concept of ‘staying well’ means to us. A broad range of external people were included in the discussions to help inject fresh ideas and shift the lens through which we view this challenge.

After setting the scene with the common process steps of ‘coming in, getting better, going home, and staying well’, the group of about 50 heard thought-provoking presentations including:

1. Trevor Read, Lightfoot Solutions, talking about the Canterbury NZ experience and forming effective alliance arrangements with a commitment to shared purpose and objectives.

2. Rebecca Jessup, Monash University, breaking down the components of health literacy, including the necessary attributes of health organisations to support health literacy.

3. David Platt, Philips Healthcare, describing virtual models of care already in use across the globe.

4. Daniel Witherington, EY, explored the concept of engaged aging, including how we might engage in creative partnerships and how disruptive technologies could support sustainable aging.

5. Matiu Bush, Bolton Clark and One Good Street, finished the session by grounding us with examples of making significant improvements to people’s lives through social connectedness and simple community initiatives.

As we continue to tackle this pursuit and narrow down the possible strategic directions we might work towards to support our community in ‘staying well’, I encourage you to contribute to the conversation and join in on setting the direction for what might be possible. If you’re keen to join in, contact myself (Briana.Baass@nh.org.au) or the HRO team (HRO@nh.org.au).

Briana Baass, Chief Allied Health Officer