June 02 2023
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In 2019, the Primary Health Network (PHN) undertook a health needs assessment in Glen Innes and Tenterfield as part of its Rural Communities Project. Through consultation with the community, a key area identified for improvement was health literacy. This resulted in the PHN and Hunter New England Local Health District partnering to employ a Community Innovation Coordinator for the Glen Innes, Severn and Tenterfield local government areas.
Due to the success of the project, we have seen a significant improvement in health literacy in Glen Innes and Tenterfield, highlighted by the following achievements.
Through engagement with both the community and health service providers, the project supported multiple touchpoints for the community to be informed about services. This has been demonstrated in the establishment of a virtual fortnightly meeting where over 180 providers, servicing the New England and North West (NENW), connect and share information. The project also established communication between community and health services through the representation of the community at health committee meetings, including Virtual Care and Clinical Trial Rural Hubs.
Improved health literacy
The project team distributed information resources identifying local mental health contacts, coordinated early intervention days, and shared health information with the communities through the provision of service provider sites at local events such as rural shows.
Build resilience and provide support
The project built rapport and trust with both community members and service providers during a difficult few years impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Project staff provided practical support through training opportunities, visiting homes and remote communities, listening, identifying needs and assisting with grant applications.
The success of the Community Innovation Coordinator role and the Rural Communities Project has resulted in the PHN creating a Rural Health Strategy to address the identified primary health needs of communities through the NENW region.
The Community Innovation Coordinator role will transition to align with the PHN’s strategy. The NENW service provider virtual fortnightly meeting will continue in the same format, with a PHN representative as the meeting chair.
The PHN would like to thank the coordinator and all others involved in the project for their dedication to improving health literacy in our rural communities.
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