Improving health for children and young people in care
Making life healthier and happier for children and young people in care is the subject of the Navigate Your Health (NYH) initiative.
This two-year pilot program was designed and implemented through a collaborative partnership across the health and community sectors, by Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CHQ HHS), the Brisbane District of Department of Child Safety Youth and Women (DCSYW) and the Brisbane Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS).
It provides services to children and young people in care and aims to impact on health disparities by focusing on health screening, referral coordination and health care coordination.
UQ experts are currently assessing the cost-effectiveness of the two-year pilot program, as part of a broader evaluation of the NYH pilot program.
Professor Stephen Birch, a health economist, explained how good health care can have wide-ranging impacts on those in uncertain circumstances.
“For many in this situation, general health can be a lower priority than things like finding security and a welcoming environment,” Professor Birch said.
“Things like ensuring the child has appropriate immunisations, and health checks for eyes and teeth might have fallen through the cracks.
“Navigate Your Health provides a systematic approach where a ‘Health Navigator’ helps look after each individual’s health care and ensures they receive appropriate attention.
“If a child is sick and cannot attend school, or is dealing with a toothache, vision or hearing issues that haven’t been addressed, it is going to impact their life in a lot of ways.
“Being healthy provides a strong base to make progress in other areas of life like education and socialising.”
UQ’s involvement is via the Centre for the Business and Economics of Health (CBEH), a joint initiative of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences and the Mater Research Institute (UQ), with generous support from the Taylor Family.
Funding for the Economic aspect of the broader NYH evaluation has been supported by a Health Services Research grant awarded through the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Professor Birch, Taylor Family Chair and director of CBEH, said the next step was to extract quality data from a similar population of children and young people in care to the one being supported by Navigate Your Health pilot program, thereby providing a comparative measure.
“A more comprehensive study would allow us to establish findings of greater scientific value and determine factors such as the economic impact and sustainable resourcing,” Professor Birch said.
“We could also seek to examine how Navigate Your Health might reduce the demands on the public health system down the track, such as emergency care and hospital admissions.”
CBEH Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Tina Rampino, who led the economic modelling for the program, said it had been rewarding working with such a diverse and dedicated program team.
“What’s exciting about this partnership is it’s not just about evaluating the program; it’s about going further and applying our learnings to shape and improve future iterations of the program, or related programs, before they’re implemented,” Dr Rampino said.
“This kind of early-stage consideration of research input and impact evaluation can be transformational for the program and its potential to change lives.”
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