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Rural Northwest Health team members have been busy allaying concerns around recent funding changes and its new model of care.

Intrigue from community members has created many questions around how Rural Northwest Health’s new team of wellbeing coordinators will help them to live well and keep well. Many of the questions raised have been about how the new funding works and what people have to do now to ensure they get the right care.

Rural Northwest Health Community Health manager Ngareta Melgren said she wanted to reassure the community that they would not be affected by any changes.

“The harsh reality is we lost $270,000 from our annual Primary Health Network funding but we still received $890,000 and we are using it to implement a new model of care based on the Wagner model of care that the Primary Health Network required us to utilise,” Ms Melgren said.

“Anyone who wants to improve their health or has concerns about their wellness, can contact a wellbeing coordinator who will then assist them to navigate the system and access the treatment or attention they need,” Ms Melgren said.

“We have maintained all Community Health services by redistributing under utilised resources to the wellbeing coordinators and not replacing roles in the administration area,” she said.

“Importantly, Rural Northwest Health is focusing on its strategic plan and intent on keeping community members well and where possible improving their wellbeing.”

Rural Northwest Health has listed answers to the more common questions its executives have fielded since the announcement of changes.


Frequently asked questions:


How is RNH managing the $270,000 funding loss?

We have changed our processes to be more efficient and streamlined by working with community members to undertake the right tasks at the right times. The Allied Health team will focus on providing the one on one clinical treatment while our Wellbeing Coordinators will assist you to identify actions that need to be undertaken to improve your wellbeing and assist you to achieve them.

District Nursing hours will still continue seven days a week in Warracknabeal and 3.5 days a week in Hopetoun. The Wellbeing Coordinators will be available to assist District Nursing Clients if required.


How is Podiatry impacted?

The Podiatrist service delivered by the podiatrist has not been impacted. A contract podiatrist has been appointed for Yarriambiack Lodge and the Hopetoun campus to support the residents and suitable community members will still be able to access the foot care nurse if this will provide the right outcome for the community member.


Is District Nursing is still available on the weekend?

Yes, District Nursing is still available on weekends at Warracknabeal.

The Wellbeing Coordinators will work with the community member to design the right services that they require to improve their health, which may include utilising the District Nursing service. District Nurses can be contacted directly on the weekends.


Will there be any cost for this service?

There is no cost for using the Wellbeing Coordinator service. Normal treatment costs will apply if you need support from a Community Health team member or district nurse and for Day Program attendance.


How do I make appointments to see the Wellbeing Coordinator?

If you need to use any health services at Rural Northwest Health, the Wellbeing Coordinators will make referrals for you.

If you need to meet with other health services providers locally or in Horsham or Ballarat, the Wellbeing Coordinator can help to organise the Shire transport service. This service is not available to community members having a procedure in hospital or being discharged from a hospital. If you are not eligible for the shire’s service, the Wellbeing Coordinators will help find another way for you.


How do I use Telehealth?

Telehealth is a great way to have an appointment with a specialist without having to travel. The Wellbeing Coordinator can set everything up for you and can attend during your appointment to help you if required.  Currently there are a few specialists on board with this service and the health services are working on getting more involved.  The Royal Flying Doctor Service is in the process of researching the type of specialists needed and in the near future this will help with access to more specialists.

The Wellbeing Coordinator will assist the community member to find the right specialist that provides telehealth if that is what the community member wants.


Do we choose our own Wellbeing Coordinator?

The six Wellbeing Coordinators are all part time. We are developing a streamlined system where any one of our coordinators will be able to access your information and continue your care without interruption.


How does a Wellbeing Coordinator help me?

The Wellbeing Coordinators will work with you to arrange care and support no matter what your age or need. They will help you with support for family, friends and carers.

They will help you live well with:

Working things out when nothing makes sense; assisting with transport; getting equipment and care in the home; being there when you need something; and planning your care.


How do I make first contact with a Wellbeing Coordinator?

Simply call 1800 667 301.


Accessing My Aged Care

The Wellbeing Coordinators will be able to help you with this and we are hoping to provide access to computers for those who use them.


Funding Cuts – Are our outside programs such as the Walking Group affected?

No, our outside programs are not affected but the Walking Group is now coming under the YCHANGe program which is run locally by community members.


Funding Cuts – Has Mental Health been affected?

Rural Northwest Health does not receive any Mental Health funding for service provision.

The Wellbeing Coordinators will assist community members to access funded services for mental health assistance from appropriate providers.

The Social Worker is still available to assist community members when they require support with housing, decision-making regarding advanced care planning and appointing powers of attorney. The Social Worker can also provide counseling for people who have difficulty coping or need support with personal or family issues, or emergency financial assistance.


Funding Cuts – Did we lose the money that was cut out of the community or did another provider receive this funding?

The funding was contracted to another local health provider and we are working with them to make sure the community is well cared for.  The provider will be providing services for community members with Diabetes and Cardiovascular care.

Rural Northwest Health will continue to provide the Diabetic Educator role that is now unfunded by the Primary Health Network.


Private health insurance, does it help us?

Yes, using your private health insurance is a great help and we can make sure you have no out-of-pocket expenses.  We are investigating the ability to take advantage of your Extras cover when using our Allied Health services.


* Ms Melgren will answer further questions and provide as much information as possible on the new changes during community meetings in Beulah and Hopetoun on June 29. The first meeting is at Beulah Information Centre at 10.45am then at Hopetoun Gateway BEET at 12.30pm.

If you wish to attend either meeting, please contact Beulah Information Centre or Hopetoun Gateway BEET today.

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