Ear health mapping process identifies themes affecting local service delivery

An Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme Application to Rollover 2019-20 Underspends was approved in the latter half of the 2019-2020 financial year to provide ear and hearing health service and referral pathway mapping in 2020-21. The project was led by CheckUP staff Jacqui Hawgood (Senior Business Coordinator - EESS) and Pedro Fortes (Business Coordinator – Hearing Health).

This rollover funding enabled CheckUP to conduct a formal ear health mapping process. The selected locations were Woorabinda and Bundaberg.

With the help of the Cassie French (Regional Coordinator – Central Region), the project identified the main themes that affected local service delivery and health outcomes of the population.

Findings from this report allowed CheckUP to strengthen linkages with local service providers and fundholders. For instance, discussion with stakeholders regarding local workforce issues allowed for CheckUP to explore the potential of reallocating funding towards additional nursing staff for Allied Health outreach visits in Bundaberg provided by IWC-Bundaberg. Discussions with the local AMS in Woorabinda, Yoonthalla Services Woorabinda, allowed for improved coordination of services and established an increased need for services targeted at the adult population given the number of services already available to the younger population provided by CHQHHS through the Deadly Ears program.

The funding also provided us with the opportunity to improve coordination with Hearing Australia and served as a catalyst for development of data-sharing agreements and reporting tool to improve patient access to a plethora of ear and hearing health related service, primarily through the Follow-up Ear and Hearing Health Services (FEHHS) funding. The purpose of FEHHS is to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who receive hearing assessments under HAPEE access to the required follow-up services through Healthy Ears, EESS, and MOICDP.

Additionally, the organisation was able to better understand the local referral pathways for patients accessing ear and hearing related services; evidence the local demand for these services through the HHS waitlist data for ENT Outpatient Services and Elective Surgery; and identify potential gaps and barriers to accessing these services.

With on-going funding, we hope to be able to continue this project in identified communities in the South West, Far North and Gulf.