On Saturday 31 August, Medway Community Healthcare (MCH) welcomed David Pisoni, South Australian Minister for Innovation and Skills.

The visit was organised as part of Minister Pisoni’s UK programme. Australia is facing many similar challenges to the UK’s health and social care sector, in terms of workforce, integration, and rolling out an ambitious programme of self-directed care.

The morning was full of sharing ideas and experiences of the challenges we face, opportunities for skills development, and innovations. The visit gave the opportunity to discuss in detail Minister Pisonis interest in workforce, apprenticeships and how MCH operate as a social enterprise.

A large focus of the morning was the research MCH has been rolling out. With the help of European funding from the European Regional Development Fund, MCH is involved in three research projects:

Transforming Integrated Care in the Community (TICC) adopts a new model which starts from the patient perspective, and works outwards to create solutions that enable improved independence and quality of life. The Model empowers patients and encourages self-reliance. The teams are self-managed and so make decisions about caseload, recruitment, office, suppliers, roles, budgets, coaching etc all in line with an agreed framework but outside of the traditional NHS hierarchy.

Diabetes and Wellbeing (DWELL) enables patients with Type 2 diabetes to access tailored support, empowering them to self-manage their condition and improve their wellbeing. It is a 12-week patient support programme of ‘pick and mix’ options and a training package for staff to deliver the programme. Participants also receive 1-2-1 motivational conversations, wellbeing activities and information sessions about Type 2 diabetes.

Community Areas of Sustainable Care and Dementia Excellence in Europe (CASCADE) provides a new and innovative model of enablement, empowerment and integration to provide respite breaks for people living with dementia. MCH will be officially launching Harmony House, their dementia respite home on 4 October and will offer personally tailored support that meets people’s individual needs, whatever they might be.

Minister Pisoni said these projects were of interest to the South Australian Government.

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) roll out across South Australia means our disability workforce will need to increase to an estimated 10,250 to 12,550 employees by 2020 – a workforce gap of around 6,000 jobs.

“Our Skilling South Australia initiative is creating an additional 20,800 apprenticeships and traineeships over four years, and features projects piloting new approaches, such as boosting the number of traineeships through Group Training Organisations, which hasn’t traditionally been used in this sector.”

Helen Martin, Director of Operations, Clinical Quality and Nursing from MCH said “We’re honoured to be visited by David. These European research projects provide the opportunity to tackle common issues in health and social care across Europe, by sharing and implementing the best available practice from neighbouring regions. The chance to share this wider than Europe was one we couldn’t miss”