Western NSW Local Health District Disability Inclusion Plan launched to enhance care

Western NSW Local Health District disability advisory committee chairwoman Meg Jones and committee consumer representative Ross Mason (left) with Disability Inclusion Plan ambassador Ben Austin OAM at the launch. Photo: FAYE WHEELER
Western NSW Local Health District disability advisory committee chairwoman Meg Jones and committee consumer representative Ross Mason (left) with Disability Inclusion Plan ambassador Ben Austin OAM at the launch. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

Clients and patients in western NSW feeling free to discuss their needs without having to “minimise” their disability is a major benefit anticipated from a new drive towards inclusion.

Measures to increase communication when a person with disability comes to a hospital or community health service in the region are being expanded as part of the effort.

The new focus is contained within the Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) Disability Inclusion Plan, launched on Monday.

Awareness was one of the biggest factors, a driving force behind the plan said.

Meg Jones, LHD disability advisory committee chairwoman, said there were people who didn’t know how to talk to a person with disability to improve their stay.

The plan aims to overcome that issue for the 55,000 people with disability in the LHD.

“A great example of one of the projects we’ll be doing within the Disability Inclusion Plan is called the Top Five,” Ms Jones said.

“When the client comes to the hospital or the community health service they have an interview with their carer and five things are identified, the five main things that will help them while they’re in our care.

“So it could be as simple as a specific way they take their medication, or the way they communicate...

“So there’s a myriad of things and it’s the top five things that would impact for that client in particular.”

Ms Jones was looking forward to the plan making a difference.

“The best benefit from our plan would be clients feel they can say what they need to say to our staff, that they don’t feel they have to minimise the disability, or absolutely neglect something that they need to help them while they’re in our care,” she said.

Western NSW LHD allied health executive director Richard Cheney said there had been attempts in the past, but this time the organisation was taking a “whole of system approach”.

“So what’s different now is taking a consistent approach across all of our hospitals and community health centres throughout the region,” he said.

Mr Cheney foreshadowed the start of a new era.

“This plan will span over three years, but we’ve got plans on plans,” he said.

“So this is the start, this is about raising awareness.

“But we want to move this plan to be further embedded so this is only going to be the first of I hope, true change in disability services.”