Liaison officers make a difference

A reimagined seven-day service with clearer referral pathways is improving cultural safety and access to healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.

Four Aboriginal hospital liaison officers (AHLOs) now form part of a strong support team at St Vincent’s that individually and collectively offers advocacy and cultural support to patients and their families as they navigate the health and social services they need.

Part of their work is focused on helping patients feel safe and comfortable asking medical staff questions because, traditionally, many of them have expressed they feel scared or weak doing this.

‘We are like bridges between the hospital and the people in our community,’ said AHLO Rhys Radcliffe.

‘We provide care too, with compassion and respect for who they are and their culture and provide someone non-clinical they can turn to for that support.’

Clinical staff also now have access to a new digital prioritisation pathway tool which supports referrals to the AHLO service by setting out the scope of the service and target time frames for care.

‘This prioritisation pathway tool will assist us in identifying the priority order of each referral so that we support those in immediate need first,’ said Aboriginal health care co-ordinator and team leader of the Aboriginal hospital liaison service Nicole Watt.

‘It has allowed our Aboriginal hospital liaison officers greater opportunity to provide uninterrupted and inclusive support and cultural companionship to the patients in our care.’

The AHLO team also provides cultural advice and support to clinicians and staff responsible for the healthcare needs of the hospital’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

‘St Vincent’s Aboriginal health unit is working collaboratively to provide a more accessible Aboriginal liaison service that meets the unique cultural needs of all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,’ Ms Watt said.

Pictured Above

(Clockwise from top left) Nicole Watt and AHLOs Soupoura Charles, Ava Jarrett and Rhys Radcliffe.