Working differently in a COVID world

WA Primary Health Alliance’s focus is to shape and sustain a health system that works for people. To continue to deliver on the goal of sustainability, like many other organisations, it has had to rethink practices due to COVID-19.

Among the first organisations in WA to move to remote working, recognising the risk presented by busy workplaces to staff, visitors and stakeholders, this has also proved to be an opportunity to think differently and imagine new ways of working.

Setting up a plan ahead team and an emergency response team, and recruiting specialist skills in disaster preparedness has allowed the organisation to ensure its road map is in step with the uncertain environment created by COVID 19.

General Manager Strategy and Engagement, Chris Kane said the work that had been done over the past few months had led to some significant changes.

“During this time, we have worked efficiently and effectively using digital technology, and have been able to deliver and meet our organisational expectations and those of our stakeholders.

“This led us to think about whether we could continue to work remotely but also have the ability to connect in person with each other and our stakeholders safely as needed.”

The result is a hybrid or flexible way of working that will see most staff continue to work remotely, but also come to the organisation’s Perth or regional offices for collaboration, quiet work, and other tasks.

“As we have been planning ahead, we have listened to the needs of our staff and our stakeholders, as well as seeking guidance from experts in infection control.

“Our next steps are to embed safeguards for our staff, stakeholders and their patients and clients, and finalise systems and processes so we can be responsive, walk back our strategy and implement tighter controls, if required due to community spread of COVID-19.”

This decision, and the planned and incremental change that is to follow, have been and will continue to be underpinned by best practice health and safety advice.

“The safety of our staff, stakeholders and their clients and patients has always been and will continue to be our highest priority.

“It’s exciting and challenging at the same time. Our leadership team and staff have embraced this change and while we still have a way to go, we are looking forward to seeing how this can make working for us and with us a great experience.”

As of next month, the organisation will be opening its offices and resuming face to face meetings on the premises of stakeholders including general practice and funded service providers.

“Our new way of working will align with and enable our soon to be released Strategic Plan 2020 – 2023 – Better Health, Together which has a strong focus on shaping, strengthening and sustaining primary health care through partnerships and strategies that improve people’s access and health outcomes,” Ms Kane said.