Connecting Country Australians | Marathon Health
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Health and wellbeing Our people Posted: 10 May 2023

Connecting country Australians

“Understanding and navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming. All my clients are also experiencing chronic health conditions, so it is my job to make this experience as painless as possible,” says Kai O’Leary, Healthcare Navigator in the Integrated Care Coordination (ICC) service.

The aim of the ICC program, funded by the Murrumbidgee PHN, is to ultimately reduce unplanned admissions to hospital by supporting people with complex health needs and chronic disease, to understand and access the support available to them – and when your health is deteriorating and you don’t know where to turn, free programs like this are invaluable.

For client Maureen, understanding what supports there were available for herself and her husband, was overwhelming, “Our independence was gone after moving into an aged care village. I had cancer, Ivan now also has cancer. We felt lost and didn’t know where to start,” Maureen said.

In recent years both Maureen and Ivan have found it extremely difficult to navigate doctors, specialists, and busy appointments. They were referred by a community nurse to the program and have found it very helpful.

“We didn’t know we were eligible for My Aged Care or Carer’s Allowance. Kai sat on our lounge with her computer, made phone calls and by the afternoon we had a My Aged Care package.

I trust that she will always point us in the right direction to access the help we need. I think it’s important for anyone with chronic health conditions to know how to access the right help,” Maureen said.

In the last two financial years, 138 people have been referred to the free service. For Kai these outstanding numbers mean that she was able to reduce barriers to accessing services for over 100 people, connecting them to the right help.

“This is a space where people feel vulnerable. They may have no assistance at home, limited transport options or might not be able to read well. All these barriers, and more, are reasons why people may feel lost, scared, or upset and not know that there are services that can help.

When I meet a client, I let them share their stories, experiences, and concerns. I also want to learn about their goals and how I can help them achieve these,” Kai said.

Kai’s job list may change from day to day, but one thing remains the same – enabling country Australians to understand and navigate the health system.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as attending GP appointments and breaking down the wording into common language. At other times it’s attending Centrelink appointments and linking them to funding or specialists. Whatever they need – I’m there.

I am proud of the work we do and it’s clients like Maureen and Ivan that make my job so rewarding,” Kai smiled.

Page last updated: 17 November 2023

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