Journal article

Care coordination for vulnerable families in the Sydney local health district: what works for whom, under what circumstances, and why?

Social disadvantage Integrated care Sydney

Healthy Homes and Neighbourhoods (HHAN), an integrated care programme in the Sydney Local Health District (SLHD), seeks to address the needs of disadvantaged families through care coordination, as one of its components. This research aims to determine for whom, when and why the care coordination component of HHAN works, and establish the reported outcomes for clients, service-providers and partner organisations. Methods: Critical realist methodology was utilised to undertake a qualitative evaluation of the impact of care coordination. Purposive sampling was used to select a total of 37 participants for interview, includ-ing consumers, service-providers and key stakeholders. Thematic analysis was undertaken to derive the major modes of intervention of HHAN, and data representing these elements was coded and summarised under contexts, mechanisms and outcomes. Results: Analysis indicates that care coordination has a positive impact on clients’ sense of independence, self-awareness and outlook on life. Trust and favourable interpersonal relations were identified as major underlying mechanisms for a successful client-provider working relationship. The identified modes of intervention facilitating positive consumer outcomes included accessibility, flexibility and service navigation. Persistent siloes in health and systemic resistance to collaboration was seen to hinder effective care delivery. Conclusions: This study suggests that a care coordination model may be effective in engaging disadvantaged families in healthcare, assist them in navigating the health system and can lead to beneficial health and social outcomes. Successful implementation of care coordination requires flexible programme design and experienced and skilful clinicians to fulfil the care coordinator role. There is a need to appreciate the negative impact that the complex and siloed health system can have on disadvantaged families.

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