As we head toward our eighth week of working from home I’m reflecting on the incredible agility of health and community sector organisations to respond with speed to the pandemic prevention requirements of our State and Federal governments. Across the region what is evident is the extensive additional workload to transition ways of working to ensure staff and client safety, and that community members are supported to stay well. Staff in direct contact with clients have quickly been able to pick up on system gaps and implement creative alternatives, with many increasing outreach and delivering essentials to the most vulnerable. Whilst some services have ceased or reduced capacity, some services have seen an increase in demand, with newly impacted people presenting. Others are noticing a significant reduction in appointments – and highlighting concern about the future ramifications. There are gains and losses that the sectors are coming to understand, and the IEPCP is keen to capture the changes, adaptations and learnings to help inform the recovery phase and prepare for arising issues post restrictions.
After initial activity to set up internal processes, services are commencing partnering again to share experiences and new models, and working out cooperative arrangements. Group-work, and capacity building in prevention work, are transferring to online models, including developing innovative videos. Anecdotally some community members are embracing the changes – important information to guide future work.
Heartening is the increase in donations that have enabled emergency relief providers to increase healthy food options, and they are receiving feedback that it’s the healthiest some of their clients have felt. Equally there has been relief and appreciation for extra grants and benefits that have been made available, but anxiety about their future withdrawal. While we have a way to go yet, it is an opportunity for those in planning positions to consider future needs and provision of systems responses.
For PCPs, with the reduction in some of the partnership work, we’ve been able to use the time productively to work on developing resources and maintaining a focus on health promoting messages. I invite you to have a look through the excellent documents attached in this edition of the IEPCP E-bulletin.
A new addition to our website resources this month is the VicPCP Partnership Capability Framework. This framework has been developed collectively by Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs) across Victoria. It reflects the practice, experience, lessons and wisdom of PCP staff and partners designing, implementing and evaluating place-based initiatives across metropolitan and regional Victoria. The framework should be relevant for any individuals and organisations that are creating or supporting collaborative partnerships to improve community health and wellbeing outcomes.
I also recommend to partners the recently developed Together for Respect at Home – Social Media Guide. In response to COVID-19, EDVOS in partnership with Outer East Primary Care Partnership, Inspiro, Eastern Health, Women’s Health East, Yarra Ranges Council, Maroondah City Council and Department of Education and Training have developed a social media campaign guide promoting ways to stay safe, healthy, connected and respectful while at home. TFER partners are encouraged to participate and promote this campaign through their organisational social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.). The guide includes content for six posts, pictures and helpful tips to respond to backlash and resistance.
In this month’s IEPCP E-bulletin we have also shared a new resource developed by Central Hume PCP: An age-friendly approach to disaster recovery I recommend this to all partners interested in understanding the intersections between age and health in response to disaster.
At the Inner East, where partners are able, we have continued business as usual through online collaboration. Our latest news is a new recruit – Jos Rao – who has joined us as Coordinator, Healthy Eating, to develop a project with a nutrition focus. This work has progressed since the Obesity Prevention Summit late last year. Following the summit, we have received and uploaded two project reports relating to our Obesity Prevention work: Using Systems Thinking to Prevent Obesity in EMR Melbourne (Deakin University) and Obesity Prevention Platform for Melbourne’s Eastern Region – Charter and Roadmap for PreventionEAST.Lab (Health Futures Australia). These findings are being used to guide the direction of ongoing work in this space.