Targeted care for high risk patients

WA Primary Health Alliance, in partnership with the WA Country Health Service, is providing targeted care and support to vulnerable patients who are at an increased risk of complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Chronic Conditions Outreach Support program assists people with existing conditions to stay out of hospital and self-manage, while providing a support network as they isolate from home.

As part of the program, Care Coordinators have been proactively reaching out to patients via telephone and telehealth services to help them navigate the complicated COVID-19 health guidelines and work through any problems related to their existing condition.

WA Primary Health Alliance General Manager Commissioned Services Mark Cockayne said the program equipped at-risk patients with the knowledge and information to manage their condition in isolation, but provided ongoing support and guidance.

“It’s important that those who are most at-risk in our communities have the support they need during this challenging time,” he said.

“This program demonstrates a high level of effort and collaboration between providers across Western Australia.”

A woman sits in front of two computer monitors. She wears a headset.
South West Chronic Condition Care Coordinator, Charlotte Steed.

WA Country Health Service, Acting Executive Director Health Programs, Margaret Abernethy, said the COVID-19 pandemic had been a particularly challenging and worrying time for those managing existing chronic conditions who were 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.

As well as information around managing their condition, Care Coordinators provide information and guidance to patients on hygiene, physical distancing, isolating at home and environmental cleaning.

South West patient Jackie Rooney said receiving the phone calls from her Care Coordinator helped to make the isolation period bearable.

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

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

The outreach services have been set up as a coordinated and targeted response between WA Primary Health Alliance, WA Country Health Service and relevant non-government organisations. Outreach calls will continue until the end of June 2020.