A public-private rural physiotherapy service

Carr, Jeremy1, Maloney, Catherine2

1Back On Track Physiotherapy, Corowa, NSW 2646 E: jeremy@backontrackphysio.biz
2Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650 E: catherine.maloney@gsahs.health.nsw.gov.au

Background

A collaborative of agencies including a primary health care organisation, hospital service, local government councils and aged care facilities commissioned a project to investigate the viability of a private physiotherapist to provide services to the communities surrounding Finley NSW, given service gaps, population demographics and the prevalence of obesity and osteoarthritis.

Method

The private physiotherapist outreached from a regional township to two rural communities where service gaps in physiotherapy had been identified.  Allied Health Assistants were utilised to enhance the service between visits from the physiotherapist.  Shared governance arrangements were established between the primary health care organisation, local health district and the private physiotherapist to monitor service delivery and train and supervise allied health assistants.

Results

During the pilot project period there were 754 physiotherapy and allied health assistant occasions of services across service streams which included chronic disease, acute and post-acute care, and private clientele.  The project has now been expanded to incorporate a further two communities in the Finley-Berrigan-Jerilderie region.

2015 NSW Health Innovation Awards Recipient – NSW Health Secretary Award for Integrated Care

2015 NSW Health Innovation Awards Finalist – Integrated Healthcare

Discussion

Private sector allied health services in rural communities are a potential resource in areas of workforce shortages.

Agencies working together to pool resources can foster consistent yet flexible service delivery models that meet the needs of rural communities, address service gaps in primary health service provision and support sustainable business development for private sector allied health.

Biography

Cath is an Allied Health Professional with 30 years’ experience as a Physiotherapist. In that time she has enjoyed very diverse roles in both private and public sectors, including community health, private practice and workplace rehabilitation. Having worked the majority of her career in rural and regional settings, Cathy understands the challenge of delivering health services across large geographical areas. She is passionate about improving access to health services in rural communities by supporting organisations, clinicians and clients through the development of contemporary service delivery models.