08.06.2020 11:24 Age: 112 days

COVID-19 outreach support program provides targeted care for high risk patients with chronic conditions

Charlotte Steed, Chronic Condition Care Coordinator in the South West

The WA Country Health Service (WACHS), in partnership with WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), is finding new and innovative ways of supporting and caring for vulnerable patients who are at an increased risk of complication if they were to contract COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Chronic Conditions Outreach Support program helps patients manage their existing condition and stay out of hospital, while providing a support network as they isolate at home.

WACHS Regional Chronic Conditions Care teams have been proactively reaching out to patients via telephone to help them navigate the complicated COVID-19 health guidelines and work through any problems related to their existing condition.

WACHS Acting Executive Director Health Programs, Margaret Abernethy, said COVID-19 has been a challenging and worrying time for us all but more so for people managing existing chronic conditions who are faced with the added knowledge that they are at an increased risk of COVID-19 associated complications.

“When we developed the program, we wanted to ensure our chronic condition consumers had access to culturally appropriate information to empower them to self-manage their conditions, protect their health and mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission,” she said.

“It was important we equipped these at risk patients with the knowledge and information they needed around managing their condition, hygiene, physical distancing, isolating at home, and environmental cleaning so they were well prepared to put their own health and wellbeing first,” Ms Abernethy added.

Patient Jackie Rooney, from the South West, said it was a wonderful surprise to receive these uplifting phone calls from the outside while in isolation and credits her Care Coordinator with helping make isolation bearable.

“Her kind and caring voice always provides a welcome relief and assurance I am not alone in this isolation,” Ms Rooney said.

“I always feel relaxed and can have a bit of a laugh about the situation, which is important for my mental health and these calls always make me feel confident I can fight another day,” she said. 

“We even had a telehealth appointment via videoconference which was great to put a face to the name and gave me the experience to learn how to use telehealth for possible future appointments,” Ms Rooney added. 

The outreach services have been set up as a coordinated and targeted response between WACHS, WAPHA and relevant non-government organisations.