Nelly in Orange, Australia – Chapter 6

We are excited to be connecting with Dr. Nelly Oelke throughout the course of her study leave in Australia! Dr. Oelke is an Advisory Committee member for the Rural Health Services Research Network of BC and will be continuing her work on exploring the mental health impacts of climate change events in rural communities among men and adults who are over the age of 50 at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health. Stay tuned at the end of every month to learn more about the evolution of her work in Orange, Australia.

November 18, 2019

I returned to Orange this morning after attending the 2nd Asia Pacific Conference on Integrated Care last week in Melbourne. The conference was great with various presentations on integrated care. It also facilitated a much better understanding for me of the Australian healthcare system or systems. I also presented three different papers in conjunction with my co-authors:

1) Integrated community-based model for fibromyalgia patients;

2) BC patient narratives of their experience traveling back home after following care in a tertiary centre;

3) Facilitating integration through primary healthcare (PHC) teams: A policy analysis.

The photo below is of my last presentation on PHC teams; the session was also live-streamed to many individuals in various different countries.


Nelly Oelke’s presents on PHC teams at the 2nd Asia Pacific Conference on Integrated Care last week in Melbourne

One of the interesting sessions at the conference focused on “Implementing Integrated Care.” Dr. Nick Goodwin, Director, Central Coast Research Institute for Integrated Care and Population Health (past CEO for the International Foundation of Integrated Care). Dr. Goodwin provided an overview of integrated care, and the need to focus on implementation of integration. Dr. Yvonne Zurynski, Associate Professor, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, spoke on evaluation of integrated care. A panel response was provided by three CEOs from three different health organizations. Nick’s talk reminded the audience of what is integration (see photo below).



He stated there are lots of integration frameworks out there; now it is about implementation and operationalization of integrated health services delivery. He also shared information on the Implementation Model of Integrated Care (Goodwin, 2015; 2017 and Lewis & Goodwin, 2017).


Implementation Model of Integrated Care (Goodwin, 2015; 2017 and Lewis & Goodwin, 2017)


I think there is a lot we can learn from this presentation for the delivery of health care services in rural communities, particularly given the adversities that rural communities face (e.g., access to services, transportation challenges, and inequitable impacts from climate change events).

In the last 6-9 months, IFIC Canada has been created. IFIC Canada is being administered through the Change Foundation and the University of Toronto. Sign up to receive emails and participate in webinars that are offered on a regular basis. Canada will also be hosting the first ever North America Conference on Integrated Care in October 2020 in Toronto. The call for abstracts will be announced in February 2020.

The Health Standards Organization, Ottawa, Canada has also been working on creating a Standard for Integrated Care. This work has been ongoing for the last two years and the finalized standard will be ready for release in the new year. I have been a Technical Committee member for the development of the standard. There is a link to an introductory webinar for the IC Standard – and on the general webpage, individuals can sign up to receive updates and information about new publications. Implementation materials, etc. will also be developed to assist healthcare organizations to implement the IC standard.

Many of you have also been asking about fire situation here in Australia and whether I have been impacted or not. Very fortunately, other than a few days of smoke here and there (dependent on the direction of the winds), we have not been impacted. This is not the case for many locals in northeast New South Wales and in Queensland. The situation is dire in many areas with homes and other property destroyed and several lives lost. The weather forecast for both states is very warm this week with temperatures hitting the mid 30s and 40s in many areas. And it is still spring. The situation will only get worse as spring turns to summer. It is a very challenging situation here for sure and one that is impacting many with regards to their mental health and wellbeing. Where the fires are not an issue, the drought continues with significant strain on farmers and others living in regional centres and rural communities. The importance of continued mental health initiatives to address these adversities is crucial, although other resources are also needed. Some government programming has recently been released for farmers for drought assistance, which will certainly help, but the need is great and there are no sign of change in the short term. Drought is a long-term issue that does not disappear when the rains come; the economic issues and other issues remain for much longer, and perhaps long-term given the changes in weather patterns.