The Australian healthcare and social welfare sectors are underprepared to deal with the burdens of rising rates of chronic disease and disability and an ageing population. Government responses to this include the establishment of programs such as Health Care Homes, individual aged care funding packages and the NDIS. However, this pressure will be felt most of all by patients moving between a range of different health and social support services. This was most recently examined by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group in their report to the Australian Government in December 2015 (publicly released in March 2016).
Patients moving between services or using services concurrently may suffer due to difficulty in navigating complex and interwoven systems, lack of continuity, having issues ‘fall through the cracks’ and being exposed to a greater risk of inadequate care. Vulnerable patients such as those requiring a variety of health and social support services or those transitioning between these services are likely to be at greatest risk of disjointedness of care.
This event tested policy initiatives at the interface between the disability, aged care, community and health sectors. Approximately 90 health leaders from around the country were invited in order to represent various players in Australia’s health and social welfare sectors, to “simulate” their way through three scenarios involving people with complex health and social needs, with the aim of developing recommendations to support greater integration, and person-centred care. Specifically, it considered the impacts of policies relating to Health Care Homes, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, individual funding packages in aged care, and hospital funding.
Based on the NHS/Kings Fund Rubber Windmill experience in the UK, a Simulation has the capacity to enact a highly realistic but safe learning environment to test policies and structures in an environment where group dynamics have an integral role in participants’ examination of the practical implications of the scenario. Learning in a Simulation occurs by closely observing and reviewing the interactions between the players to identify potential gaps in processes and service provision and/or to expose unintended consequences.