My name is Max Broadley, I am the Manager of Community Services at Otway Health and Community Services – in the Otway Ranges on the South Coast of South Western Victoria.
The hospital is a MPS, which means it has multiple service divisions. There exist within the organisation Acute Beds, High Care Aged Care, Low Care Aged Care, Catering Dept, Primary Care Team, Community Care Team (HACC), x3 Neighbourhood Houses, Child Care Centre, Youth Team and Opportunity Shop. The catchment is a forested mountain range of multiple small townships, a total population over the area of just under 4000 (not including tourists).
The location is beautiful. Set in Apollo Bay on the coast.
As we are a public health institution, the mainstay of our customer base is 60+. This correlates with statistics of the area also, where there is a higher proportion of 65+. The township of Apollo Bay is a mixture of old farming community, old fisheries community, retirees, and sea changers. There is a younger population, and they mainly work in the tourist driven economy, tradies, or DSE (Dept Sustainability and Environment). The workforce of Otway Health and Community Services is just under 100, so it represents a good portion of the community.
The challenges Otway Health face in getting support is location, location, location. Our practice is a difficult one hour journey to the nearest regional centre. To get here you need to traverse a mountain range, so, not an attractive locum option. Also, private business is busy in the regional centres, and practitioners are busy servicing their local community.
As we are regional/rural there is not a great depth of practitioners to choose from. So all in all, that represents a risk to the service, particularly physiotherapy on which people come to rely for regular and routined care. As well as these barriers, cost is also a barrier. If we did not partner with NAHRLS and we did attract a locum from another source, it is not unlikely that the accommodation and travel costs incurred would become an Otway Health liability as part of the locum package. Lastly, as NAHRLS is an organisation, the administrative support in sourcing a locum is great.
I first heard about NAHRLS via my regional DOH contact for Allied Health and found my experience using NAHRLS was easy. The staff were really easy to deal with. I jumped on the phone, made a few enquiries, and within a couple of follow up emails it was all set.
There were no commissions or fees, we only pay the hourly rate of the practitioner (plus super). NAHRLS invoice us for this, so all I do is process the invoice for payment. It couldn’t get easier!
We have used physiotherapy support from NAHRLS on a number of occasions. This has been to cover annual leave, professional development leave, study leave, and long service leave.
It is great for the community to have different practitioners come through. It is also great for the wider staff team. All practitioners have their specialist areas or strong areas of practice. Michael Davis (NAHRLS Physiotherapist) for example, worked a lot in the hospital system, and so when he was treating patients in the Aged Care facility he brought all of that experience to bear. That kind of confidence and aptitude also has a positive effect on the nurses and pca’s with whom he shared care.
Given that the locums that we have had from NAHRLS have been experienced professionals the orientation to this environment was minimal. A set of keys, a quick rundown on the patient management system, and a run sheet of bookings, was really all it took. And the locums really enjoyed their time at Otway Health.
I would definitely use NAHRLS again and recommend the program to others absolutely!