Lighthouse Project Launch Phase 3

The Minister for Aged Care, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP spoke at the Lighthouse Project Launch Phase 3 on 10 February 2017

Page last updated: 13 February 2017

PDF printable version of Lighthouse Project Launch Phase 3 (PDF 245 KB)

10 February 2017

Good afternoon, and thank you, for your Welcome to Country.

I acknowledge you and the other traditional custodians of the land on which we meet the Darung, Gandangara and Tharawal peoples. I pay my respects to you and to Elders past, present and future. I extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who join us today.

Thank you to Liverpool Hospital, the National Heart Foundation and the Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association for the opportunity to share in this occasion. The Lighthouse Hospital Project is a practical and effective project that aims to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience Acute Coronary Syndrome.

A key part of the project is a Toolkit that has been developed to guide hospital staff in how to deliver care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that is culturally competent, streamlined, and of the highest clinical standard. The same care that any patient who presents at any hospital in this country would and should expect.

The Toolkit is a guide for continuous quality improvement in the care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome, and has been described by staff who participated in the project as ‘essential’. It provides quality improvement activities that facilitate culturally competent and effective care from the moment a patient presents to the hospital. And we are seeing results and improvements from its use.

The Toolkit has facilitated a better understanding amongst hospital staff about the issues and barriers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience when they access health care. It is helping build better relationships between health carers, patients and their families and the Aboriginal Medical Services.

We are also seeing better support for patients across the continuum of care, including follow-up care with individual patients post discharge, and reduced rates of discharge against medical advice. This means that patients will see improvements in health outcomes over time.

Given the great work and results that this project is achieving, it is my very great pleasure today to announce $8 million in funding for Phase Three of the Lighthouse Hospital Project. This funding will expand the project that is transforming hospital care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with Acute Coronary Syndrome from the original eight pilot sites to a further ten sites across Australia.

Hospital staff who took part in the pilot, have also recognised that the Toolkit – which was focused on cardiac care in this project - could be applied to any hospital admission for any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. And this is another exciting development in the Lighthouse Hospital Project.

It has great potential to be adapted across the board, improving the experience of care in the hospital system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and improving outcomes after they leave hospital. And in this way, the Lighthouse Hospital Project is part of a much broader movement that is growing across the health sector in our work on Closing the Gap.

One fundamental aspect of this work is the recognition of the social and cultural determinants of health – the impact on health of housing, education, employment, nutrition, the justice system, the protection and honouring of culture. Research has clearly shown that there is disparity in care received by Indigenous Australians as opposed to non-Indigenous people – indicating a problem of systemic racism that needs to be addressed.

In the case of circulatory disease, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more than one and a half times more likely to be affected and only half as likely to receive therapeutic hospital procedures. In addition, they are less likely to receive in-patient cardiac rehabilitation and prescription of statins on discharge from hospital, and are more likely to die within two years of leaving hospital. Projects like Lighthouse are addressing these issues.

We must make sure the health system is sensitive and attuned to how to deliver health care to different people in different ways in order to try and ensure equal outcomes.

I know there is a lot of good work going on out there, thousands and thousands of dedicated committed people – working in the health system – wanting to make a difference. But I also know that discussion about social and cultural determinants of health, including racism, is deadly serious – and it can be a matter of life and death, if your health concerns do not receive the attention they need because of who you are.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is everybody’s business. And the health system has to make it a priority.

Of course we also need to keep promoting healthy lifestyles to help prevent chronic diseases from developing. We need to get people in for regular health checks so we can diagnose chronic diseases and treat them early. And we need to ensure we are managing chronic diseases appropriately, efficiently and to the highest achievable standard when they do develop. Not only in hospitals, but in specialist clinics, community health services, and general practices too.

We must ensure we have a health system that respects the needs of people, regardless of who they are. The Lighthouse Hospital Project is a wonderful example of people working together to achieve that goal.

I offer my encouragement and my full support to the National Heart Foundation, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, and all the staff and health professionals who work at the Liverpool Hospital and all of the other participating hospitals, and wish you every success.

ENDS

For more information, contact the Minister's Office on 02 6277 7720

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