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Tasmanians who have tested positive to COVID-19 – we want to talk to you

The stories of patients and carers provide strong witness to the events and practices that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and understand best the impact their own experience has had on them and their families.

Health Consumers Tasmania would welcome the opportunity for patients who have had tested positive to COVID-19 and carers who have cared for those who have had COVID-19 to tell us their stories so we can ensure patient experience helps inform and drive positive change within the health system to make sure we are better prepared in case this happens again.

There are many reviews happening at the moment, but none focus exclusively on understanding the patient experience.

Who is Health Consumers Tasmania?

Health Consumers Tasmania is a new state-wide community organisation that provides an independent, informed and representative voice on behalf of health consumers to make sure the health system better meets the needs of Tasmanians.

We are funded by the Tasmanian Department of Health and Primary Health Tasmania.

For more information, please visit www.healthconsumerstas.org.au


Contact us

If you would like to share your experiences about contracting COVID-19, for a confidential conversation please contact Bruce Levett at bruce@healthconsumerstas.org.au

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Communique – 30 June 2020

Click here to view the 30 June Communique

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Communique – 1 June 2020

Click here to view the 1 June Communique

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Health Literacy Training via Zoom

You are invited to nominate up to 2 of your frontline staff and or volunteers to participate in a free 2-hour Community Health Literacy Training Program.  This follows on from 2 successful sessions we trialled in November 2019 to better connect community members to the local support they need, when they need it.

When?Friday 5 June 2020 2 – 4 pm or Wednesday 17 June 2020 9am – 11am
Where?Training will be held via Zoom (support will be provided to delegates not familiar with Zoom) and facilitated by Dr Michelle Towle
Who? Frontline staff and volunteers in local businesses, services and community groups i.e. those employees / volunteers who directly interact with members of the community.  
Why?To improve connection between health, social care and community services and local businesses, so that people with, or at risk of health related conditions receive information and support simply and easily An important form of personal and professional development for front line staff and volunteers putting people first and improving our sense of communityConnecting Care is an attitude and a way of working and how to find relevant local services; it is not a referral service
How?Email names of up to 2 people and their contact details to  support@connectingcaretas.com.au
AndAs a thank you, we are adding a free 30 minute Stress Management session – especially relevant during the current circumstances we all find ourselves dealing with.

If you wish to discuss this further, please contact 0418 508 680 or email support@connectingcaretas.com.au

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Communique – 18 May 2020

Click here to view the 18 May Communique

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Mapping a path out of the Coronavirus lockdown.

Click here to view the media release from Health Consumers Tasmania

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Communique – 1 May 2020

Click here to view the 1 May Communique

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Telehealth Fact Sheet

Click here to view the Telehealth Fact Sheet, or read the fact sheet below:

This information is based on that provided by the Australian Government Department of Health

http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/Factsheet-TempBB

As part of the Government’s response to COVID-19 new temporary (13 March – 30 September) MBS telehealth items have been introduced to help patients access essential health services remotely by and reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Who is eligible?

  • All Medicare cardholders are now eligible to access the new temporary MBS telehealth items for a range of consultations.

What telehealth options are available?

  • Patients can now access MBS telehealth consultations with General Practitioners (GP), Specialists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, Audiologists, Chiropractors, Clinical Psychologists, Diabetes Educators, Dietitians, Exercise Physiologists, Mental Health workers, Midwives, Nurse Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, Optometrists, Orthoptists, Osteopaths, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Psychologists, Social workers, Speech Pathologists, Other Medical Practitioners (OMP).
  • Videoconference services are the preferred approach for substituting a face-to-face consultation. However, health practitioners will also be able to offer audio-only services via telephone if video is not available.

Do I have a choice if my practitioner suggests a video consultation?

  • Yes. If a video consultation is suggested and you do not have the necessary technology, you may request to have the service by telephone. Your health professional may also prefer a face-to-face consultation.

Can I be charged a fee for this service?

  • If you are a Commonwealth concession card holder, a vulnerable[i] patient or a patient under 16 years old, you must be bulk billed for GP or OMP telehealth items. This is a legislative requirement.
  • For all other telehealth services, health professionals may set their own fees for the new temporary MBS telehealth items.
  • If your service is bulk billed (meaning you will not have an out of pocket cost for the service), you will need to assign the Medicare benefit you would receive to your treating health professional.

How do I make a telehealth appointment?

  • Phone first. When making an appointment with your health professional, you could indicate that you would like your consultation via telehealth. Your health professional may also offer any of your existing appointments as a telehealth appointment.

How do I prepare for a telehealth consultation?

  • Have details of your current prescriptions for review
  • Have a record of any recent clinical measurements (eg weight, blood pressure)
  • Make a list of questions for your health professional

Can I be prescribed medication via telehealth?

  • Yes, the medical practitioner can mail or email a prescription to you or your pharmacist.

Can my treating health professional order me a test? (e.g pathology test)

  • Yes. There is no difference between a video and face-to-face consultation in terms of ordering pathology and diagnostic imaging tests. In practice, the arrangements for these tests could vary between email, fax, or mail.

Can I choose who will be in the room with me when I have the video consultation?

  • Yes. Depending on your isolation requirements, you may have support from a friend or family member. This should be discussed with your treating health professional.

Are there special privacy requirements for video consultations?

  • The same privacy requirements that apply to face-to-face consultations will apply to video consultation/telephone consultations. Patients should discuss any concerns with their treating health professional.

Please note that the information provided is a general guide only. It is ultimately the responsibility of treating practitioners to use their professional judgment to determine the most clinically appropriate services to provide, and then to ensure that any services billed to Medicare fully meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the legislation.

Reasonable efforts are made to ensure that this information is accurate. Connecting Care does not accept liability for anything, including injury, loss or damage.


[i] A vulnerable patient is classified as one of the following; a person who:

(a) is required to self-isolate or self-quarantine in accordance with guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in relation to COVID-19; or

(b) is at least 70 years old; or

(c) if the person identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent—is at least 50 years old; or

(d) is pregnant; or

(e) is the parent of a child aged under 12 months; or    

(f)  is being treated for a chronic health condition; or

(g) is immune compromised; or

(h) meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.

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Coronavirus mobile app

Health Consumers Tasmania support the Coronavirus mobile app – with some conditions

Health Consumers Tasmania, an independent community health advocacy organisation supports any actions that can be used to make the community a safer place for us to live, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister is encouraging the public to voluntary download a tracing app onto our phones that can be used by health authorities to identify people who may inadvertently come into contact with someone infected by the Coronavirus.

The chief executive officer of Health Consumers Tasmania, Bruce Levett believes that the app should be something the community seriously considers supporting “Health Consumers Tasmania encourages Tasmanians to download the app but our support is qualified on two things; firstly, that there is proper regulations and data security put in place to protect the privacy of those using the app, and secondly, the app remains voluntary and that it will be a decision that each Tasmanian should make for themselves and they are given all the information they need to make that decision”.

“Firstly, we want to ensure the Government authorities have in place the right checks and balances to make sure the app is only used for what it is intended to do, the data remains secure and is deleted as soon as it is not required”.

“Our concerns are that the normal checks and balances are not in place. Federal Parliament is not sitting at the moment and this removes one key form of public scrutiny for this type of thing and provides an important forum through which community concerns can be raised and dealt with”.

“For Tasmania, the Personal Information Protection Act 2004, which is a primary piece of Tasmanian legislation protecting the privacy of Tasmanians when their personal information is handled by State authorities has been suspended due to Covid-19. Again, I would feel much more comfortable in supporting this app if this legislation was reinstated as it gives Tasmanians some level of protection of their data and reduces the potential for government agencies other than Public Health to try and access the data from the app”.

“Health Consumers Tasmania also propose the State Government committee that oversights the management of the data include trusted representatives of the community, to provide integrity to its process, and assurance the data is only used for its intended purposes”. 

“The issue of data security is also important, and the community does rely on the experts to be able to clearly advise the community on this”.

“Community perceptions in this regard are critical. The trouble here is that Amazon, who I understand will provide a platform to store the data, may not necessarily instil confidence within the community regarding data security – a perception the Government will need to overcome if they want to gain the communities trust.”

Another issue Health Consumers Tasmania has regarding the app is around safety, “The app will not stop people catching the virus, it will record activity after the event, so we need to understand that downloading the app will not be an excuse to undo the great work Tasmanians have done to date in staying home”.

A proportion of Tasmanians do not feel safe at the moment. A recent survey[1] conducted by Health Consumers Tasmania conducted into its communities of interest identified 20% did not feel safe and a similar number couldn’t say that they felt safe”.

“Unsurprisingly, those with a pre-existing health condition or a disability did not feel safe, but an unexpected finding from our survey was that younger people aged 18-34 felt the least safe of all the age groups”.

“There are a lot of people in Tasmania who still have to leave their home to go to work. Many are quite rightly concerned that their exposure to other people is putting them and their families at risk, whether it’s our front-line health workers, carers and support staff of the elderly and our teachers”.

“These people don’t have the choice to isolate or work from home. In order to earn an income or provide an essential service, they come into contact with other people and hence a risk of catching the virus”.

“Our survey respondents were also concerned that community transmission could be higher than reported, given the number of people who don’t show symptoms”.

“Therefore, the app needs to be considered with this in mind – how can the app be tailored to make sure our most vulnerable can be offered the same support if they come into contact with a person with the virus? What about those who can’t afford phones, could they gain access to one? The young, do they all have phones and those working in casual sales jobs like fast food outlets, will they be allowed to keep their phones on them at all times whilst working?”.

“Health Consumers Tasmania believes that ultimately it will be up to each individual Tasmanian to decide whether they download the app or not, and it is up to the authorities to provide enough easy to understand information to allow each Tasmanian to make an informed decision” concludes Bruce Levett, CEO of Health Consumers Tasmania

“Tasmanians could benefit from the proposed coronavirus tracing app as it addresses a number of concerns that the public hold so we support its intention”.

Media contact:

Bruce Levett                                                                              

Chief Executive Officer                                                             
b.levett@chf.org.au                                                                  
0418 503 126 www.healthconsumerstas.org.au


[1] A copy of a survey undertaken by Health Consumers Tasmania conducted between the 6-9 April, 2020 is available at www.healthconsumers.com.au.

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Become a mental health first aider

About 1 in 5 Australian adults experience a common mental illness each year. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training will teach you practical skills to support someone with a mental health problem. Make a real difference to people in your community.

STANDARD MHFA TRAINING BENEFITS

Knowledge

Improves knowledge of mental illnesses, treatments and first aid actions.

Confidence

Increases confidence in providing first aid.

De-Stigmatising

Decreases  stigmatising attitudes.

Support

Increases the support provided to others.

LEARN PRACTICAL FIRST AID SKILLS

• Recognise common mental health problems 

• Provide initial help using a practical, evidence-  based Action Plan

• Seek appropriate professional help, and 

• Respond in a crisis situation

This is a 12-hour educational course, not a therapy or support group.

This course will be self paced through May (2 hours / week for 4 weeks), with 2 x 2.5 hour Zoom sessions in early June.

Free for men 40+ and women 65+ and their close contacts, $50 others.

Residents of Burnie, Central Coast and Devonport are especially welcome.

Facilitator: John Clark from Rural Alive and
Well.

HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Registration essential at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/F3FWQBY

For more information, visit http://mhfa.com.au/courses @MHFA_Australia @mentalhealthfirstaid Funding for this event has been via the North West Suicide Prevention Trial Site Doing Better Together Community Grant Scheme. The North West Tasmanian Suicide Trial Site is sponsored by funding from the Australian Government through Primary Health Tasmania (Tasmania PHN).