This evaluative study by Sinead Sheils, NP RPA Sydney and JD Doidge, Hepatitis NSW Peer Support worker, Sydney, reviewed the impact of introducing a new Model of Care to an established Out Reach Liver clinic visiting a private Opioid Clinic monthly since 2016 in Newtown.
The new Model of care focussed on: 1, Strengthening established partnerships in providing care to Clients of the Opioid clinic 2, Removing Perceived Barriers, 3, Assertive Client engagement and 4, Data monitoring.
The introduction of a Peer Support worker, JD Doidge from Hepatitis NSW to the Out Reach Liver Clinic successfully addressed and fulfilled 3 of the 4 components of the new model of care.
JD highlighted the value of having a support worker who had a lived experience of IVDU, HCV Infection and treatment in reducing the distrust of Clinic Clients, as Client engagement became a more level playing field, reducing the stigma and discrimination Clients can feel from Health Professionals.
JD also discussed the ‘Fear’ Clients can experience in having to manage another commitment, that HCV testing and treatment, can be an added stress to their already difficult lives. This was something I hadn’t considered as being a barrier to engaging in HCV Testing and Treatment. The study highlighted the value of Peer Support workers in being able to engage more holistically with Clients, listening and understanding their life Experiences.
Engaging and collaborating with a Peer Support Worker in my Regional Work setting, the Bega Valley NSW is an avenue we have begun to investigate and are discussing with Hepatitis NSW. This study along with many other studies presented at AVHEC19 confirmed the benefits of a clinical and’ Lived Experience’ partnership in engaging marginalised communities into health care. However funding for these partnerships is not always available to regional settings, particularly where the Priority population group maybe small. In the mean time I will explore other avenues of Engagement with DBS Testing and incentives for Testing at secondary NSP services. Primarily, Client Engagement requires compassionate communication, non-biomedical language and the development of trust which is the core work of Nurses.
Author-bio: Fiona Mckenna, Sexual Health Nurse, Hepatitis C Nurse at Bega Valley Community Health.