‘Patients have the right to respectful care that promotes their dignity, privacy and safety.
Equipped with greater cultural awareness and the ability to ensure cultural safety, GPs will provide better quality and more appropriate care to all of their patients.
It will also ensure they are well-rounded and more effective doctors.’
Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, believes GPs can make important contributions towards creating a safe and culturally welcoming environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
A/Prof Peter O’Mara, NACCHO Chair John Singer Minister Ken Wyatt & RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel launch the National guide at Parliament house 28 March
He views National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) as an opportunity to improve the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
To mark National Reconciliation Week, Morgan Liotta from newsGP looks at the importance of cultural safety in general practice and highlights some useful resources for GPs and practice teams.
See Full RACGP Press Release Part 2 Below
‘The inequitable situation whereby Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are 30% less likely to receive appropriate care after a heart attack demands action.
Working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and health organisations is the most effective tool for building cultural safety in our public hospitals, reducing discharge against medical advice and improving care pathways after discharge.
Understanding the true history of Australia allows non-Indigenous clinicians and health administrators to be aware of the background to our current situation, learn about their stereotypes, reflect on practices and build trust with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’
Dr Chris Bourke, a Gamillaroi man and Director of Strategic Programs at the AHHA, said the five dimensions of reconciliation—race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity and historical acceptance—directly relate to the Lighthouse goal of achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who go to hospital after a heart attack.
Hospitals are developing stronger links with ACCHO’s / Aboriginal Medical Services; this means discharges are better planned, so patients are more likely to access follow up appointments, take ongoing medication and use cardiac rehabilitation services.
See Full Press Release Part 2 Below
Part 1 The RACGP The importance of culturally appropriate healthcare spaces
Given GPs are considered the first point of contact for most Australians when accessing healthcare, a culturally responsive general practice environment can play a significant part in improving that access, and can be crucial to closing the gap in health outcomes.
Ada Parry is a community representative on the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Board. She agrees that cultural awareness benefits all aspects of a healthcare relationship – from a patient’s greeting as they enter a practice to fostering an ongoing connection throughout the care.
‘A really simple step is to have a friendly face at reception. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people go to mainstream health services and want to be treated like everyone else,’ Ms Parry told newsGP.
‘It is important to understand that some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients may have a different culture or cultural practices to non-Indigenous Australians.
‘If [healthcare professionals] don’t show that they care about those differences, this can really affect their patients.’
Ms Parry strongly believes that taking the time to get to know patients, to hear their story and help them understand their illness and treatments can make a big difference.
‘People need to get past stereotypes and stop making assumptions,’ she said.
‘The approaches that work for most of your patients may not always work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
‘Treat patients the way you would like to be treated.’
Associate Professor O’Mara agrees, emphasising that the strength of culturally responsive care is not only for patients.
‘The role healthcare professionals, organisations, medical colleges and governments have in providing safe and appropriate spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients could not only benefit the patients, but also the healthcare providers themselves,’ he said.
@RACGP will be running free half day workshops to support practice teams to maximise the opportunity for prevention of disease for Indigenous clients . For busy GPs, @NATSIHWA members , practice nurses @CATSINaM or ACCHO practice managers
The RACGP has a number of educational resources and standards that help to support the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples:
- Standards for general practice training – describes the expected outcomes of a quality and safe training program, including principles for training in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
- Curriculum on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – designed to support training providers in training a culturally aware and responsive GP workforce
- Cultural awareness education and safety training – provides guidance on the accreditation of cultural awareness and safety Quality Improvement and Continuing Professional Development (QI&CPD) activities
- Standards for general practices (5th edition), ‘Criterion C2.1 – Respectful and culturally appropriate care’ – includes explanations that are meaningful for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services by taking into account their context, culture and service delivery models
- Five steps towards excellent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare – practical advice on working towards the delivery of high quality Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare
Part 2 AHHA Recognising the historic experience of Indigenous patients is key to reconciliation
Understanding the history behind why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are five times more likely to leave hospital against medical advice is key to achieving reconciliation in the hospital system, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) and the Heart Foundation said this week.
National Reconciliation Week is this week, and the theme ‘Don’t Keep History a Mystery’ highlights the importance of all Australians exploring our past, learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, and developing a deeper understanding of our national story.
Reitai Minogue, national manager for the Lighthouse Hospital Project, said, ‘Closing the heart health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians requires understanding why many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients have a distrust of hospitals.
‘Historic experiences such as racism, miscommunication and mistreatment have influenced the level of distrust, which is reflected in the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are five times more likely to leave hospital against medical advice.’
The Lighthouse Hospital Project, a federally funded joint program by the AHHA and the Heart Foundation, is working with 18 hospitals around the nation to transform the experience of healthcare for Indigenous patients by trying to make their environments more culturally safe.
Examples of positive changes include improving the hospital environment with local artwork, bush gardens and cultural spaces for family, and expanding and better supporting the Aboriginal workforce. Hospitals are developing stronger links with Aboriginal Medical Services; this means discharges are better planned, so patients are more likely to access follow up appointments, take ongoing medication and use cardiac rehabilitation services.
About the Lighthouse Hospitals Project
The Lighthouse Hospitals Project is a joint initiative of AHHA and the Heart Foundation. The $10 million third phase of the Lighthouse Hospitals Project is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program.
NSW: Coffs Harbour Health Campus, John Hunter Hospital, Liverpool Hospital, Orange Health Service and Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital.
NT: Royal Darwin Hospital.
Qld: Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Mount Isa Base Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Prince Charles Hospital and Townsville Hospital and Health Service.
SA: Flinders Medical Centre. Vic: Bairnsdale Regional Health Service.
WA: Broome Regional Health Campus, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Kalgoorlie Health Campus, Royal Perth Hospital and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.