Supporting the health workforce through a major redesign

Feb 16
Author:Sue Berney
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The Physiotherapy Department at Austin has implemented a significant change to the workforce model across the acute health service to ensure that patients receive the right care, at the right time in the right place by the right therapist. Austin Health is a tertiary hospital in Melbourne that has 980 beds across 1 acute and 2 sub-acute campuses. The Physiotherapy Department services all 3 sites and has approximately 84 FTE. The acute site has 400 beds which are managed by staff of 26 FTE physiotherapists and 3 allied health assistants.

The innovation involved the development of new streams of care for the physiotherapy department that better match patients’ needs across the acute health service. The remodeled streams of care were: Acute and Deteriorating, Early Rehabilitation and Transition, and Maintenance. These streams were based around emerging and current evidence that outlines the key role that physical activity and rehabilitation play in improving patient well being.

As well as developing the new streams of care, Austin  implemented a standardized two tiered risk prioritization tool  based on the likely impact of (or lack of) physiotherapy treatment on patient outcomes. This meant that all patients who most needed care on a given day received it. 

As a result of the innovation improvements were noted in:

  • Patient care and workforce outcomes. Patients receiving the right care demonstrated by reductions in delay to mobilization for high risk patients following surgery and a reduced number of unplanned admissions to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
  • Patients receiving care in the right place with more patients discharged directly home, fewer patients admitted to sub-acute for less than seven days and a shorter LOS in both acute and sub-acute care.
  • Patients receiving care at the right time demonstrated by an increased discharge earlier in the week.
  • Patients receiving care from the right therapist demonstrated by a number of patient experience stories and a number of patients admitted to ICU through physiotherapy led escalation of care
  • Patients being more satisfied with the care they received and having a clearer understanding of their ongoing management once discharged.

This innovative workforce model was successfully implemented over a 12 month period by an enthusiastic representative local steering committee supported by a project lead funded by a Department of Health and Human Services grant. This unique workforce model is now embedded in the department and will continue as the accepted approach to delivering care. The leadership demonstrated by the local management team in setting the vision for the future and leading the change was a critical success factor for this project.

Sue Berney will be speaking on ‘Supporting the workforce through a major redesign’ at the Health Workforce Planning & Development Conference this April. Book your place by February 26th to save $200 on ticket prices.

Health Workforce Planning

Submitted by Sue Berney

Sue Berney

Sue Berney is Manager of the Physiotherapy Department at Austin Health.

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