Two women bakingTwo women baking

Annual Report
2021-2022

Empowering people to live their best life

A time for renewal

We work to address the root causes of vulnerability, prevent disease and promote lifelong health outcomes for people in our community.

Our professional and supportive teams work in partnership to deliver a diverse range of holistic, affordable, accessible and tailored services, which empower people to live their best life. Everyone is welcome, regardless of age, ability or stage of life.

As a for-purpose not-for-profit organisation all of our profit is re-invested into providing and improving our quality person-centred health and wellbeing services. By encouraging choice, confidence and control, we will empower you along your health journey. healthAbility is by your side, supporting you to live your best life.

This year’s highlights

During the 2021-202 financial year, 25,920* clients received a service from us. This figure includes 5,000 clients that sought our services through our Baby Makes 3 program, Men's Shed program and our Needle and Syringe Exchange program.

We delivered a total of 82,514 appointments and client contacts, including 11,417 telehealth appointments.

*COVID-19 restrictions limited our dental services to emergency treatment only for a significant portion of the year.

Clients

25,920
Clients received a service
5,000
Clients from our Baby Makes 3, Men’s Shed and Needle and Syringe programs

Appointments

82,514
Appointments and client contacts
11,417
Telehealth appointments

Chair and CEO message

John Rasa - Board Chair and Agata Jarbin – CEO

Our services

Everyone in our community is welcome to visit and use our services.

Click the arrow or swipe to view all our services.

Working in partnership

healthAbility understands the added value that working in partnerships delivers. We believe a broad range of partnerships, across the health and welfare systems and within the community, are essential to achieving the goals of our Strategic Plan and enabling us to best respond to our community needs.

We create greater impact for our clients and their families through our strong relationships and collaboration with funders, and by partnering with other health providers to deliver holistic health services that support people of all ages and abilities to reach their full potential.

We collaborate with clients and carers, other health professionals and the wider community to address the wide spectrum of people's mental, physical and emotional health needs, supporting people in our communities to live better and longer lives.

Focus on Client Experience
Based on our local knowledge, using our experience and working with our partner agencies, we established two additional full service sites and launched telehealth and remote mental health support to our diverse community.
NPS Survey
We surveyed our Allied Health clients to ascertain how likely they would be to recommend a person to use our service based on their experience. We received 209 survey responses which calculated to a fantastic NPS score in the ‘Great’ category of 44.
Responding to Community Needs
Everyone is welcome, regardless of age, ability or stage of life to access our services. We offer a range of services for people, children, youth, adults, and seniors.
Storytelling
This year we showcased several of our clients through telling their stories, in their words, their experiences and how we have supported them to live their best lives. All our client stories are available on our website.
High Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR)
In partnership with Access Health and Community, HRAR was a COVID response and outbreak support for our most vulnerable residents living in the 250+ high risk public housing, rooming and community housing.
We Celebrate Diversity
This year we undertook a large photoshoot to add to our brand image library that celebrated and reflected the diversity in our community. The range of photos used to highlight our services showcase people in all different sizes, ethnicities, genders, abilities and appearances.
Staff Wellbeing
we value our staff and their wellbeing, and this year have activated a number of initiatives that promoted team or wider organisational health and wellbeing focus. Some examples included team yoga sessions, wider team catch ups over a meal, trivia night, painting workshop, and even cooking classes.
Recruitment Drive
Supporting our staff is a top priority, so we developed a recruitment video – ‘Careers with Meaning’. We interviewed several staff from key areas of the organisation and in their own words spoke to what they value about working with us.
Learning Management System
We introduced Kineo which provided a range of resources to support staff learning and training needs. The portal provides staff with necessary certificates on completion and has a wide range of learning modules.
The Narrative Wheel™
We developed a Narrative Wheel™ which aimed to strengthen and communicate our culture, and be used to support change within the organisation, engage employees and external stakeholders through consistent and authentic communications that reflect the employee experience.
Employee Value Proposition
Our Employee Value Proposition was developed after we invited our staff to tell us why they loved working with us and what they valued most. Some highlights were our supportive, kind, caring and ethical culture, multi-disciplinary teams and the opportunity for continually learning.
Delivering COVID-19 Vaccinations
We worked with Your Community Health, Banyule Community Health and EACH to deliver pop up vaccination clinics to the most vulnerable people across the Nillumbik and Whitehorse shires.
Baby Makes 3
We acknowledge a host of new partnerships through our Baby Makes 3 program with local government early parenthood services and public maternity healthcare providers including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations on Gunaikurnai Country.
Connect4Health
We and Access Health and Community entered a Connect4Health Alliance agreement, formally building on the well-established partnership work between the two organisations over many years.
Expanded Diabetes Services
We grew the delivery of the diabetes program 'IDEAS' in partnership with Eastern Health and our Community Health Service partners in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.
Ongoing Partnerships
We have many longstanding partnerships that are central to our ability to provide services the community needs. Ongoing support of the Blackburn South Bendigo Community Bank Branch has enabled access to our  Children's Health Service, in particular assessment with our Paediatrician, for vulnerable children and families. Our Little Chompers and Smile Squad dental teams as well as our School Readiness program in kindergartens are examples of health services that aim to provide children with the best possible resources to reach their full potential
NPS Survey
We collaborate with partner organisations, other health organisations, health professional and supporters to address the wide spectrum of people’s mental, physical and emotional health needs and strive to build a more coordinated health system. We surveyed our current partners to ascertain how likely they would be to recommend healthAbility as a partner organisation based on their experience with us. With a total 23 survey responses, our NSP score was a fantastic 32, which indicates that our partners enjoy partnering with us on health initiatives to serve the wider community

Please click/hover on the circles in the diagram above, to see more information.

Clients and Community

Focus on Client Experience

The last year has seen many projects commenced all with the goal of a positive client experience. An example is we ran a series of Customer Journey Mapping workshops to look at our services and how we can improve what our clients and our community experience when they use our services. As part of this commitment to our clients experience, we also employed a Client Experience Manager as dedicated role to focus solely on how we can improve our interactions and services to promote a more positive experience.

NPS Survey

We surveyed our Allied Health clients to ascertain how likely they would be to recommend a person to use our service based on their experience. We received 209 survey responses which calculated to a fantastic NPS score in the ‘Great’ category of 44.

Responding to Community Needs

Everyone is welcome, regardless of age, ability or stage of life to access our services. We offer a range of services for people, children, youth, adults, and seniors.

We Celebrate Diversity

This year we undertook a large photoshoot to add to our brand image library that celebrated and reflected the diversity in our community. The range of photos used to highlight our services showcase people in all different sizes, ethnicities, genders, abilities and appearances.

Storytelling

This year we showcased several of our clients through telling their stories, in their words, their experiences and how we have supported them to live their best lives. All our client stories are available on our website.

High Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR)

In partnership with Access Health and Community, HRAR was a COVID response and outbreak support for our most vulnerable residents living in the 250+ high risk public housing, rooming and community housing.

Staff

Employee Value Proposition

Our Employee Value Proposition was developed after we invited our staff to tell us why they loved working with us and what they valued most. Some highlights were our supportive, kind, caring and ethical culture, multi-disciplinary teams and the opportunity for continually learning.

The Narrative Wheel™

We developed a Narrative Wheel™ which aimed to strengthen and communicate our culture, and be used to support change within the organisation, engage employees and external stakeholders through consistent and authentic communications that reflect the employee experience.

Learning Management System

We introduced Kineo which provided a range of resources to support staff learning and training needs. The portal provides staff with necessary certificates on completion and has a wide range of learning modules.

Recruitment Drive

Supporting our staff is a top priority, so we developed a recruitment video – ‘Careers with Meaning’. We interviewed several staff from key areas of the organisation and in their own words spoke to what they value about working with us.

Staff Wellbeing

We value our staff and their wellbeing, and this year have activated a number of initiatives that promoted team or wider organisational health and wellbeing focus. Some examples included team yoga sessions, wider team catch ups over a meal, trivia night, painting workshop, and even cooking classes.

Partnerships

NPS Survey

We collaborate with partner organisations, other health organisations, health professional and supporters to address the wide spectrum of people’s mental, physical and emotional health needs and strive to build a more coordinated health system. We surveyed our current partners to ascertain how likely they would be to recommend healthAbility as a partner organisation based on their experience with us. With a total 23 survey responses, our NSP score was a fantastic 32, which indicates that our partners enjoy partnering with us on health initiatives to serve the wider community.

Ongoing Partnerships

We have many longstanding partnerships that are central to our ability to provide services the community needs. Ongoing support of the Blackburn South Bendigo Community Bank Branch has enabled access to our  Children's Health Service, in particular assessment with our Paediatrician, for vulnerable children and families. Our Little Chompers and Smile Squad dental teams as well as our School Readiness program in kindergartens are examples of health services that aim to provide children with the best possible resources to reach their full potential

Expanded Diabetes Services

We grew the delivery of the diabetes program 'IDEAS' in partnership with Eastern Health and our Community Health Service partners in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.

Delivering COVID-19 Vaccinations

We worked with Your Community Health, Banyule Community Health and EACH to deliver pop up vaccination clinics to the most vulnerable people across the Nillumbik and Whitehorse shires.

Baby Makes 3

We acknowledge a host of new partnerships through our Baby Makes 3 program with local government early parenthood services and public maternity healthcare providers including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations on Gunaikurnai Country.

Connect4Health

We and Access Health and Community entered a Connect4Health Alliance agreement, formally building on the well-established partnership work between the two organisations over many years.

IDEAS - A wrap-around service in a community setting

In 2017 we began the expansion of IDEAS (Integrated Diabetes Education and Assessment Service) to provide services for people with diabetes across the eastern region. We have continued to grow the service and delivered over 4,000 consultations out of hospital in the past year for people with type 2 Diabetes.

Heat map below of IDEAS consultations in Eastern Melbourne.

Read more
+

IDEAS provides wrap-around care for people with Diabetes, offering access to Allied Health services and specialist Endocrinology within a community health setting. IDEAS is an integrated system underpinned by choice, trust, open communication and shared care and knowledge. Giving people the right information for decision making and confidence in self-management of their Diabetes.

There are positive health improvements for people with Diabetes including reduced average HbA1c (blood glucose) levels, lower rates of Diabetes distress and promising indications of weight loss. People accessing the service reported a highly positive experience which means better engagement resulting in them being more actively involved in their own care, including as they return to ongoing care with their General Practitioner (GP).

Gathering a number of case studies (client stories) this past year has shown the significant diversity of health and psychosocial challenges people accessing IDEAS are facing. This confirms the positive effects the team based care can have on the person as a whole.  

When a person was asked “What was it that triggered you or enabled to be able to make all these changes in your diet and lifestyle and improve your diabetes?” His reply was – “Just having all these people around to help me and show me what to do, I felt that I could do it”.

During an initial assessment in IDEAS, Mrs N was quite emotional during the consultation stating “I feel like no one has ever helped me manage my Diabetes before” and went on to see the Endocrinology Registrar, and internally referred to Diabetes Education, Dietetics and Exercise Physiology; wrap around care with the person at the centre.

We have begun working with Eastern Health, partner Community Health Services, the Department of Health and the East Melbourne Primary Health Network to develop a sustainable funding model. Using IDEAS as an example for provision of care for people with Diabetes aims to develop a road map for ensuring we can deliver best care outside of hospital for the many people now managing chronic health issues.

“As one of our longest service development initiatives Integrated Diabetes Education Assessment Service (IDEAS) is a wonderful example of how effective partnering between community health and hospitals can change a system of care. IDEAS leads the way in demonstrating how team based care with the person at the centre can deliver positive health outcomes as well as point the way to better care for people with chronic health conditions”.

- Carina Martin - General Manager Partnerships and Service Development

IDEAS is delivered in partnership with

IDEAS acknowledges the funding support of the Australian Federal and Victorian State Governments. In addition the support of the Primary Health Network program.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Leaps and bounds – Tori’s story

Six-year-old Victoria, more commonly called Tori, skips confidently into Box Hill’s healthAbility wearing her fluffy kitten ears. Chatting excitedly, she greets Dr Mandy, her paediatrician of four years with Mum Cherrie remarking, “If you had seen Victoria even a year-and-a-half ago, you wouldn’t believe she’s the same child. You couldn’t have a conversation with her; the few words she did know were simply repeating or ‘parroting’ what she was hearing, to this, what you see today, is what healthAbility has done”.

Read more
+

Cherrie explains, “In my opinion a lot of kids on the spectrum tend to stay in their little shell and it’s a lot of work to crack into it, and even harder to encourage them to come out and want to participate.” Tori’s team of health professionals at healthAbility have helped her want to connect with the world, “And she also wants the world to engage with her” Cherrie emphasises.

At age two, Tori was non-verbal, and Cherrie noticed similar behaviour with her eldest son who also has Autism, prompting a referral from her GP to healthAbility.  “I phoned up and spoke to Dr Mandy, who said, ‘I think I can help you’”. Soon Tori had a diagnosis and was connected to other health professionals such as a Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist and a Psychologist.  

Tori is able to see Dr Mandy, thanks to a generous funding grant from Community Bank Blackburn South. They granted healthAbility additional funding over a three-year period (from 2021 to 2024) for eligible families to gain access to our Paediatric services. “The additional funding will allow up to 25 other families to access our Paediatric service and integrated health team which they may not otherwise have the means to access,” says Carina Martin – General Manager Service Development & Partnerships.  

“Community Bank Blackburn South funding is fantastic initiative as part of our community engagement. It helps provide care to children in need whose families are unable to afford private care. Early Intervention is just so crucial for a child’s development, it can make a big difference in their development” says Dr Mandy.

Cherrie states that one of the things she values most about healthAbility’s services is the flexibility of the therapists. “They listen, and that is what you need. They understand the strengths and abilities of each child and don’t try and force the same program on each, what works for six children may not work for the seventh, so they alter their approach to fit the individual. In every session, something is always achieved, and you are given strategies to take home and put into place rather than being left to feel like a terrible parent.” Cherrie reiterates how much Tori loves attending saying, “She doesn’t even realise most of the time she’s having a therapy session because it is mostly play, and through that she has progressed in leaps and bounds.”  

“healthAbility have pretty much been a part of our lives every day for the past four years. They are not only professionals, but they’re also an extension of our family” said Cherrie.

The success of this dedicated and united team effort between Tori’s family, school, and healthAbility can be witnessed first-hand in Tori’s happy disposition; she’s a confident, academically advanced Grade 1 child with many friendships. Cherrie recalls a time when her interactions were very scripted or mimicked. “Through this therapy her play is now less rigid, they’ve taught her the coping mechanisms and strategies to put her own ideas and imagination into games, and she’s also more open to accepting new ideas and suggestions from other people too.”


Proudly supported by:

Children's services
Learn more

Teaming up to support mental health

Partnering to deliver mental health services across the north, inner and outer east of Melbourne allows us to offer the community a wide range of opportunities to engage.

Our valued partners across the North, Inner and Outer East of Melbourne include community health and psychosocial services.

Read more
+

The Stepped Care Model of mental health is funded by the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (EMPHN). The Eltham team deliver ‘LIFT’ with Banyule Community Health (Lead Agency) and Nexus Primary Health and our teams in Box Hill and Boronia deliver ‘Steps’ and Head to Health, with Access Health and Community (Lead Agency), Inspiro Community Health and Oonah Belonging Place.

We also deliver the Commonwealth Psychosocial Support Service with Wellways as the Lead Agency. This program spans the region.

Our mental health service includes the After Hours Mental Health Nursing Service, also funded by EMPHN.

All of our programs work to support children, youth and adults of all ages living with a mental health concern, and collaborate across service areas, programs and regions to provide integrated, multidisciplinary care to meet the unique needs of each client.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Download as a PDF

Our mental health team

Our mental health team provide a person-centred and trusted service, focusing on moving with the client as their mental health support needs change.

27People across 38 roles in our mental health team.
This includes:
5 Psychologists
5 Counsellors
5 Mental Health Nurses
2 Mental Health
Social Workers
1 Psychotherapist
636Clients supported with mental health services, although some of our mental health supports are anonymous like our After Hours Mental Health Nursing Service.
5,126Mental health appointments provided to clients
Mental Health services
Learn more

Baby Makes 3: Building the path to gender equality

The Baby Makes 3 education and social change initiative shapes long-term attitudes and social norms about parenting by challenging outdated gendered expectations of becoming a parent and building equal and respectful relationships between first-time parents.

New partnerships with local government early parenthood services and public maternity healthcare providers, coupled with a deeper focus on influencing systems and settings to support large-scale, sustainable change underpinned another year of impressive program results. These outcomes support several government policies and strategies, including the Gender Equality Act 2020.

As many as 25,600 families benefited from Baby Makes 3 activities in 2021-2022.

Read more
+

We supported:

33Local governments
17Health services
12Community service organisations

● Victoria - 6
● New South Wales -3
● Western Australia - 2
● Tasmania - 1

We delivered high quality workforce
development through:

35Staff to be facilitators
72Staff undertook gender equality in early years training
40Midwives undertook applying a gender equality lens to
Child Birth and Parenting Education Program
13Staff undertook Community of Practice training
14Staff from multicultural organisations undertook Gender Equality
Champion Training
Continuing Professional Development points training accreditation by Australian College of Midwives

We undertook a co-design process with organisations with specific cultural expertise to adapt the Baby Makes 3 model and resources to increase accessibility for an even broader diversity of Victorian families:

  • 3 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCO’s) on Gunaikurnai Country partnering on 2 community projects post Balit Booboop Narrkwarren (BBN) Champions training
  • Process commenced to deliver BBN Champion training on Bunurong Country, including cultural adaptation with local ACCO’s and Aboriginal staff in mainstream services
  • BBN endorsed for Continued Professional Development points through the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners
  • 32 staff from Koori Maternity Services, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Australia) and Maternity Service Education Program educators participated in BBN Introduction session at Koori Maternity Services Clinical Update
  • 6 community-based organisations with cultural expertise and competency partnered in co-design to adapt Baby Make 3 for their communities - Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese

Our work continues to be recognised as best practice:

  • Victorian Government’s Free from Violence Second Action Plan launch showcased Baby Makes 3 as best practice exemplar
  • Article “Strengthening Gender Equality in Child Birth and Parenting Education” featured in Australian Midwifery News
  • Presented Antenatal Project at Australian Fatherhood Research Symposium 2022
  • Abstracts accepted for 2022 Maternal Child and Family Health Nurses Australia and Childbirth And Parenting Educators of Australia national conferences‍
Baby Makes 3 - Our year in review

Acknowledgments of artwork

"Looking Out" - Ann-Marie Morgan, Gunaikurnai Balit Booboop Narrkwarren Champion

Diane Morgan, Gunaikurnai Balit Booboop Narrkwarren Champion

River Analogy

There I am standing by the shore of a swiftly flowing river and I hear a cry from a drowning person. So I jump in the river, put my arms around them, pull them to shore and apply artificial respiration.

Just when they begin to breathe, there is another cry for help. So I jump in the river, reach them and pull them to shore, apply artificial respiration and then just as they begin to breathe, another cry for help. So back in the river again, without end, goes the sequence.

You know I am so busy jumping in, pulling them to shore, applying artificial respiration, that I have no time to see who the hell is upstream pushing them all in.

Baby Make 3 program
Learn more

Caring for our most vulnerable communities

This year our High Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR) team worked to provide vaccinations to residents living in high-risk accommodation. These vaccination hubs provided an accessible, comfortable and local place for people to get vaccinated, which helped to ensure that residents and the wider community were protected.

"After receiving a vaccination, one of our community members was even kind enough to thank our staff with a box of chocolates".
Read more
+

For Targeted Case Management we assisted over 750 residents getting vaccinated across 10 pop up clinics In Nillumbik and Whitehorse and also in reach. We were able to connect house bound residents with services to get vaccinated through in reach services.

In Nillumbik we worked with Your Community Health and Banyule Community Health for our pop up clinics and also supported in reach vaccinations at the Supported Residential Services in Nillumbik where almost 50 vulnerable residents were vaccinated. We also developed a strong relationship with Nillumbik council who strongly supported our pop up clinics and were instrumental in advocating for Nillumbik to host these.

We partnered with EACH to deliver vaccinations in Whitehorse both at the pop up clinics and also providing in reach.

High Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR)
In partnership with Access health and Community, the HRAR program ran for over 18 months and was initially a COVID response and outbreak support for residents living in the 250+ high risk public housing, rooming and community housing in the Whitehorse, Manningham and Boroondara Local Government Areas.

Caring for community

8Staff in our HRAR
support team
750Residents supported to get vaccinated by our HRAR team
33Residents supported directly through the HRAR team**

This program had the unintended benefit of our workers to connect and build trust with lots of residents that have fallen through the gaps and provide support and connection with services that align with our values and principles. Having the capacity to provide out reach and flexible engagement with residents that required support in accessing services and being able to gently walk alongside them in connecting them in with the correct service to then have the opportunity to live their best life.

The program allowed us to collaborate and be innovative when working with residents in a respectful and responsive manner. Helping to create a better level of equity in our community and show how our organisation can work with integrity, especially when engaging with vulnerable community members.

Our HRAR team over the time was made up of very experienced workers including community engagement workers, bi-lingual staff, community nurses, a podiatrist, mental health and alcohol and other drugs workers and social workers with experience in with many areas in the community sector including alcohol and other drugs, mental health, chronic illness, My Aged Care, family violence, culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, disability and of course COVID-19 response including testing and vaccination.

The funding for HRAR and Targeted Case management concluded on the 30th June 2022. We concluded with the knowledge that we connected and supported vulnerable members of our community with staying COVID-19 safe and provided connections for ongoing support.

Connect4Health

In July 2021, healthAbility and Access Health and Community entered into a Connect4Health Alliance agreement, formally building on the well-established partnership work between the two organisations over many years. Since this time, an Executive Officer for Connect4Health has been appointed and an Alliance Oversight Committee established.  

Read more

Everyone deserves to have access to a hot shower

Everyone in our communities deserves to have access to safe and clean shower facilities. We partnered with Aligned Leisure to provide free access to showers for people in our communities who are homeless, couch surfing, or who don’t have a permanent place to live.

Read more

Community renewal

Keeping our community safe

Keeping our community safe is a high priority. This year we undertook a review of a number of initiatives to ensure that we continue to keep our community safe.

Read more
+

Child Safe policy

We developed a commitment to Child Safety Policy.

  • We want children to be safe, happy and empowered. We support and respect all children, as well as our staff and volunteers
  • We are committed to the safety, participation and empowerment of all children
  • We have zero tolerance for child abuse, and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated very seriously and consistently with our robust policies and procedures
  • We have legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety, which we follow rigorously
  • We are committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early, and removing and reducing these risks
  • We have robust human resources and recruitment practices for all our staff and volunteers
  • We are committed to regularly training and educating our staff and volunteers on child abuse risks
  • We are committed to ensuring that children’s views are listened to and respected and provide avenues for feedback and complaints
  • We support and respect all children, as well as our staff and volunteers. We are committed to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and to providing a safe environment for children with a disability (important addition)
  • We have specific policies, procedures and training in place that support our leadership team, staff and volunteers to achieve these commitments

If you believe a child is at immediate risk of abuse phone 000.

NDIS accreditation

We undertook and passed our National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) accreditation which involved a stringent review of how we deliver services to NDIS clients.

Community Home Support Program (CHSP) funding changes

A working group was formed to ready the organisation for the pending transition of CHSP funding model and subsequent changes to our Allied Health and Aged Care and Disability program areas.

Infection control

Our continued commitment to infection control continued especially as clients and staff resumed services at our locations. This involved ensuring that staff completed infection control training, had access to cleaning supplies and hand hygiene, the continual screening of staff and clients for cold and flu symptoms and random quality checks.

The infection control working group was established early in 2022 bringing together key staff from all around the organisation to work collaboratively to review our infection control manual. The working group is a collection of staff who are passionate about the prevention of healthcare associated infections and the group have been pivotal in ensuring best practice is documented, implemented and championed across multiple sites and program areas. Ensuring and promoting patient safety is the underlying aim of the group. More recently the group has joined with the COVID-19 working group in response to our community learning to live with COVID-19.

MARAM

Inclusive practice is pervasive and should be reflected in all programs.

The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework provides a system-wide approach to risk assessment and risk management. We have been working hard to implement the framework which aims to:

  • Increase the safety of people experiencing family violence
  • Ensure intersectional considerations of family violence and risks are represented, including for Aboriginal and diverse communities, children, young people and older people
  • Keep perpetrators in view of the system and hold them accountable

Our staff are in a unique position to identify and respond to family violence and promote child wellbeing and safety. Working in line with the MARAM framework provides a guide to ensure that services effectively address family violence and promote child wellbeing and safety.

Quality and safety
Learn more

Creating a Reconciliation Action Plan

Together with Access Health and Community we have committed to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

A RAP is a formal statement of commitment to reconciliation and sets out how we will contribute to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is important as strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples is for the benefit of all Australians.

Read more
+

Our purpose in developing a RAP is to actively contribute to reconciliation to:

  • Develop our organisation’s specific Vision for reconciliation
  • Engage and collaborate with our First Nation’s people and to understand reconciliation and why it is important
  • Listen and partner with local Traditional Owners living in Nillumbik and Whitehorse to improve services and remove barriers to access
  • Develop respect, recognise and celebrate Australia’s First Nations history, people and culture
  • Increase equity in health and wellbeing for First Nations peoples
  • Enable our staff to develop greater cultural awareness that will strengthen relationships with First Nations stakeholders
  • To support our desire to be an employer of choice through building a more dynamic and diverse workforce
  • Join and learn from a broader network of other RAP organisations

The RAP development process

There are four levels of RAP development which are described below:

  • Reflect (12-18 months) – Scoping reconciliation, relationships and laying foundations
  • Innovate (2 years) – Implementing reconciliation. Develop and strengthen relationships with First Nations communities, engage with staff and pilot strategies to advance reconciliation in our workplace and community
  • Stretch (2-3 years) – Embedding reconciliation and expanding our sphere of influence. Organisations that have established a strong approach to advancing reconciliation internally and within the organisation’s sphere of influence
  • Elevate – Leadership in reconciliation. For organisations with a proven track record to form a strong strategic relationship with Reconciliation Australia

This year's highlights

In 2021/2022 we

  • Joined with Access Health and Community under the Connect4Health banner to work together to develop our RAPs and agreed to develop Reflect RAPs
  • Appointed experienced consultant Karen Milward, Chair of Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place to assist and guide us on our journey
  • Registered to undertake a RAP with Reconciliation Australia
  • Formed a joint RAP Working Group to lead the process and oversee its development
  • Formed a champions group which consisted of Five Access Health and Community and five healthAbility staff to support development & implementation of RAP actions
  • Had our CEO's reach out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and leaders that we hope will become important stakeholders and assist us with our RAP
  • Started informing staff about the RAP and what it means for our organisation
  • Attended the Mullum Mullum Naidoc Ball
  • Developed a draft Vision Statement for reconciliation
  • Completed first drafts of our RAPs

We aim to finalise our RAPs in late 2022, and look forward to bringing our organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities together, and strengthening cultural identity for the benefit of all Australians.

Celebrating the return of the Men's Shed

Our Men's Shed members were delighted to be back on the tools and reconnecting with each other after in-person activities were temporarily suspended last year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We were so glad to have the Shedders back and it really was an exciting time. The lockdowns were particularly hard on the men and since coming back, we’ve had very high attendance. The men were happy to get involved in different projects and catch up together again”

- Stewart Blair - Men's Shed Manager.

Read more
+

Our Shedders celebrated their return to the Shed with a visit from local MP Michael Sukkar, Member for Deakin in February. Mr Sukkar popped by to have a chat and a tour of the workshop to see the latest projects our Shedders were working on. He also met our CEO Agata Jarbin and General Manager Mental Health, AOD and Prevention - Olive Aumann. In April, Whitehorse Mayor Cr Tina Liu also made a visit to the Shed. “The weeks have gone so quickly. It was great having barbeques and special morning teas to celebrate the return.” said Stewart.

In the past year, our Shedders were also pleased to receive their new uniforms. Mixing the old with the new, the uniforms still retain the traditional look of the Men's Shed uniforms, with the addition of the heathAbility Men's Shed logo. Another exciting development was the $500 donation from the Commonwealth Bank Forest Hill branch, as part of the Branch Community Donation Program. The Men's Shed was chosen for the donation because of the notable impact it had in the community by supporting the mental health of community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The donation went towards new equipment and tools for the Shedders to use on community initiatives and projects.

Men’s Shed
Learn more

Reconnecting and renewing relationships with clients

We are thrilled to welcome our Connect Well Groups clients back face-to-face to our Eltham and Box Hill locations after Coronavirus restrictions being lifted. Our Connect Well groups provide activities to help older people or people with disability to live a healthier, more rewarding and socially engaged life.

"It's so wonderful and fulfilling to welcome our clients back to join us in person for games, entertainment and of course to share a cuppa. It's the highlight of their week for some of our clients to be able to see and talk with their friends again. It is also a relief for those that have carers to know their person is engaged in activities and they get a mini break. Our staff are also so pleased to be back supporting our people in a real meaningful way".

- Rachel - Connect Group Team Leader

Community Champions Advisory Group

As part of our new community engagement activities, an updated version of the previous Consumer Advisory Group was relaunched following the previous group ceasing due to the pandemic. Named the Community Champions Advisory Group, its goal is to bring together people in the areas we serve who champion the issues they feel are important in their communities. Following an open expression of interest, members were interviewed and selected with the first meeting held in July.

Read more

Melbourne Disability Expo

On Friday 1 and Saturday 2 April 2022, we took part in exhibiting at the Melbourne Disability Expo at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. The expo was attended by over 5,000 people and our staff enjoyed getting to speak to people directly regarding our disability and support services.

Our clients and community

Client experience and feedback

This year we have undertaken a thorough review of our client experience as part of our community connections framework. This involved documenting our feedback processes including client compliments and complaints and ensuring that key staff undertook client experience training. We surveyed a wide range of stakeholder groups including our clients, staff and partners to obtain feedback to improve the client experience with accessing our services.

Read more
+

What we did

Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys. The NPS measures how likely a person is to recommend our service. One of the surveys we sent out was to Allied Health clients. Within 24 hours we received an amazing 113 responses, and 209 responses in less than 2 weeks! From this survey we calculated an NPS of 44, which is a fantastic result that places us in the 'Great' category.

  • Allied Health Adults Services clients where surveyed with the below results
  • 95% said staff where kind, caring and respectful
  • 80% said they felt the services they had received helped them live their best life
  • 87% said they they trusted the staff and felt safe
  • Translated Feedback. We translated feedback communications for our Dental services into Greek, Italian and Mandarin

Home Care Package clients consulted after feedback that their billing reports weren't easy for them to understand and didn't offer enough clarity. Staff worked with clients to redevelop the reports so that key information was displayed in an easy to read format.

"It's a wonderful service with great variety and dedicated staff. I'm very grateful of the activities offered and the ability to be able to drop her home is very helpful. Thank-you so much."

- Connect Well Groups

"I am grateful for all the care and responsiveness I have received with accessing services from healthAbility"

- Home Care Services

"I appreciate that your dental appointments ran on time, and that staff where so polite and caring."

- Dental

"Thank you, as always you have gone above and beyond."

- Children's Services

“They support me to do my job and access professional development.”

“My manager is fantastic and very easy to talk to about anything. I’m always getting praised for my hard work.”

“They are prepared to take on new things even when it stretches the organisation and the path ahead is not clear, and are willing to take certain risks to expand or improve services.”

A good life - Frankie's story

Like over 480,000 Australians, Frankie lives with dementia.

When it came time for her to receive some support at home, Frankie's family arranged care through our trusted and experienced Care Management team to help her live at home safely for as long as possible.

While Frankie has since moved into residential care, we had the opportunity to chat with her daughters Amanda and Debbie, who provided an entertaining account of their mother's fascinating life so far, and reflected on their positive experience of being supported by a care team who "really became family".

Read more
+

Frankie has her good and bad days.

Her General Practitioner (GP) describes her memory like a lace curtain - some days are like the solid bits where she can recall a lot, and the bad days are the holes.

She is always shocked when she sees her own photograph, asking “Who’s that old woman?”. When she is told it’s her, she is aghast, saying in her increasingly strong Scottish accent, “I’m not 94, I feel like 21”, and then she looks in the mirror and asks, “Who the hell is that?”.

Caring for seniors

103Home Care Packages managed by us
209In Home and Community Support clients

Although these accounts may sound comical, her youngest of two children Amanda (Mandy) reflects, “It’s a sad disease, dementia”.

Frances Hall, or ‘Frankie’ as she is more affectionately known, has lived a full and fascinating life. Born in Dundee, Scotland, she lived with her daughters Debbie, Amanda and husband Ray until 1966 before moving and spending many of her years in the small village of Hunwick in County Durham, England.

Ray worked in Lagos, West Africa, before his sudden death at age 47, when their daughters Debbie and Mandy were just 14 and 12. Although always very fit and agile - able to touch her toes well into her 80s - Frankie wasn’t very socially-minded, relying a lot on the support and friendship of her beloved family.

Mandy comments, “I came to Australia on a working holiday as a nurse in 1987 and Mum came out for a month at the end, and we travelled home together.”

Frankie would often remark to her daughters “You’re living in the wrong country; you should be living in Australia”. Mandy continues, “I came back to live permanently in Australia in 1990 and Mum had lots of holidays here, before Deb finally visited and decided to move her own family and Mum here in 2004.”

“Mum always said, ‘I do the best I can, and only when I can’t, then I ask for help’”, Mandy recalls. Years ago, before the irrationality of dementia set in, she would say to her daughters “You will know when to make the decision, you’ll know when I need help”.

But then as it crept closer, and Frankie started having trouble, she tried to keep it hidden and was adamant she didn’t need assistance. As her dementia progressed, she would obsessively press red buttons and flick off switches.

“Mum would put herself in danger sometimes trying to pull out cords, like from behind the TV”, says Debbie. “We started noticing little bruises on her, even a hole in the bathroom wall where she’d obviously fallen but she was hiding it from us”.

Frankie was determined to stay living independently at her home in Research for as long as possible, and with the help of her daughters and healthAbility’s In Home Care services, her wishes were fulfilled.

It was in 2017, when Frankie was in her late 80s, that her daughters had the Bundoora Care Team do an assessment which subsequently deemed her eligible for a Home Care Package of Level 2. This was later upgraded in 2019 to Level 4 when she deteriorated further and was deemed a falls risk.

Debbie, who works in aged care, had asked around about support services. But after seeing how well their mother’s neighbour was being looked after by healthAbility, they didn’t look any further.

Both women can’t talk highly enough about the care their mother has received from all of the healthAbility staff.

Speaking in absolute agreeance, they describe Support Workers Heather and Gayle as, “the two angels”, adding “they really became family”.

Heather even volunteered to take Frankie to Debbie’s son’s wedding, which was incredibly important for the family. It meant Frankie was able to bless the nuptials by wrapping a small piece of her traditional Scottish family’s tartan cloth around their hands.

healthAbility organised Support Workers to supplement the care given by Debbie and Mandy, attending to Frankie twice a day on weekdays, and briefly on weekends for a few months in 2021 too.

“We worried ourselves sick about the fact she wasn’t eating”, says Debbie. “Gayle was fantastic - she would make her little fresh meals of scrambled eggs on toast, omelettes or porridge, making sure she had a good breakfast”.

She was also very good at encouraging Frankie to get up and get dressed and take her medications. Heather would do some cleaning, give Frankie an early dinner and loved doing crosswords and jigsaw puzzles, whilst singing old Scottish songs with Frankie.

“That’s what we wanted, we wanted the interaction and companionship for Mum”, says Mandy. “They really went above and beyond, even walking Mum’s little dog when she was no longer able to do it”.

Frankie’s daughters and the Support Workers communicated effectively with each other through a large diary on her coffee table, letting each other know what had been done or needed to be attended to next.

“They were extremely reliable and trustworthy”, Mandy says, “If they ever got there five minutes late, they would work five minutes longer, or even more.”

Mandy adds, “They loved Mum, they still ring me now and ask how she is, and both of them have been to visit her”, in the aged care facility where she now resides since breaking her hip in late 2021. There Frankie has found a new community and is joining in sing-a-longs to her heart’s content.

Mandy fondly recalls one of her Mum’s regular sayings: “I get up every morning and I thank God for another day. If I was to go tomorrow, I’ve had a good life, you know”.


Our Home Care services team

Our Home Care services team aim to keep our clients living independently and safely in their homes and living well in their community.

102Clients have Home Care packages managed by us
35In Home and Community Support Workers assisting our clients to live well in their home

Home Care Packages

In late 2021 a quality and feedback survey was sent out to our Home Care Package clients. With our clients giving an NPS score of + 38 (very good), they were also asked for feedback and to rate the quality of our service.

Convenience

  • 92.3% of our clients said that our services were delivered at a time convenient to them
  • 84.6% of our clients felt that they receive the services they need

Client centred

  • 85% of our clients said they were able to participate in making decisions about the services they receive
  • 96% of our clients said that the services they receive help them live the best life possible

Feedback

  • 88.4% of our clients said they were able to provide feedback or make complaints

We also received feedback about our financial statements and have since worked in partnership with some of our clients to develop a new statement with items and codes for more clarity around the services they receive and the dates they receive them.

In Home and Community services
Learn more

Karen's poem - Dementia and a musical soul

Karen works with us in our In Home and Community Support, Home Care Packages and Social Support Group teams. She commenced with healthAbility back in 2015 as a volunteer. Karen wrote this poem highlighting her experience with one of our Home Care Packages clients.

Kathy and Lisa are both healthAbility's Coordinators for our In Home Community Support service.

Read more
+

Kathy said "I have a lady I think you'll like nearby in Plenty, so not much of a hike Companionship and care will be your role, Leigh* has dementia and a musical soul".

We hit it off in just two hours from her garden she gifted me three camellia flowers.
I returned to see Leigh the following week
Somehow her outlook wasn't quite so bleak.

I said "What would you like to do today?"
"Lunch at a restaurant, is that okay?"
"Of course" I said with a grin on my face
"All you need to do is name the place".

To Greensborough I drove at her request but first ensured she was warmly dressed.
Calamari she ordered with a white wine at "Urban Grooves" we chose to dine.

"The meal was magnificent she said with a smile
I've not had Calamari for quite a while.
I'm ever so grateful to spend time with you
Have we time to get a bank statement too?".

"Yes, we'll go now, the banks not too far Before the rain comes, quick let's get in the car".
Then to Peligra for coffee, cake and a chat
We spent half and hour talking about this and that.

On our way home she revealed to me she's mostly alone and not often sees family.
"Well, we've had a great day" I said with a tear in my eye
Dropped her safely inside and said my goodbye.

Leigh asks the same questions each time we meet
as I walk through the living room to take a seat
I treat Leigh with respect and dignity as I take her hand and know her brain's crumbling like falling sand.

Seven weeks have passed since that first day
Leigh has taught me a duet on the piano to play
I'll share her journey whatever that be and battle through Dementia Leigh, family and me.

Just a thought for all who complain
I do agree lockdown is such a pain but souls with Dementia live life in despair and rarely meet people with time willing to share.

"Is that it?" I said with fear in my heart
as my brother and I witnessed mum depart.
Dementia took her from us and we are alone
but her wish and ours was granted she died safe at home.

You see Kathy's spirit is not easily lead
She chooses her carers with both heart and head
With Lisa her colleague they pick clients with Dementia and pass onto carers to share a most usual adventure.

What a wonderful service healthAbility provide
With all three departments working side by side.
Home Care Packages, In Home Community Support and SSG**
Caring for people in our community!

**SSG is now known as Connect Well Groups
*Names have been changed to protect client's privacy.

Connect Well Groups
Learn more

Connecting with hope for people with younger onset dementia

To help improve the quality of life for people with younger onset dementia and their partners, our Adult Speech Pathologist Ffion Walker runs IMPACT, a group with a focus on speech therapy that provides a safe, inclusive space for people to access support and connect with others.

We spoke with Ffion to find about more about her work with people with younger onset dementia, and how we can better support those living with the condition.

Read more
+

Receiving a diagnosis of younger onset dementia can be a stressful and emotional time for a person and their family. Typically defined as any form of dementia in people under the age of 65, younger onset dementia can bring with it a different set of challenges compared to dementia that may develop later in life.

To help improve the quality of life for people with younger onset dementia and their partners, our Adult Speech Pathologist Ffion Walker runs IMPACT (Individuals Meeting with Progressive Aphasia Communicating Together). IMPACT is a group with a focus on speech therapy that provides a safe, inclusive space for people to access support and connect with others.

We spoke with Ffion to find about more about her work with people with younger onset dementia, and how we can better support those living with the condition.

What is IMPACT and how does it work?

IMPACT is a group I facilitate to support clients with younger onset dementia, as well as their partners. The group is split into two groups – one group is for the clients who are living with dementia, and the other group is for their partners. We’ve done it this way because there are different issues that we need to address for both groups, and we need to create a space for partners to feel comfortable in truthfully telling us how they’re managing their experience.

For people with dementia, the group supports them in conversation and helps them to access memories related to a topic. We might pick a topic like hope, grief, or memory, and then we’ll look at some ideas around that and their experience of it. The participants help each other, and encourage each other, and I think that in itself has a therapeutic effect. There’s a sense of connection and belonging, that they’re part of something that they can contribute to, which I think is a really important part of the group.

How can people join the group?

Group participants are all my speech pathology clients. I will do individual consultations with them and their partners, and then assess if they might benefit from attending the group. Some people won’t suit a group environment, but others will do really well.

Normally the group is held face-to-face, but during lockdown we’ve held online sessions for the partners so we can still be there for them as a point of connection and support until we’re allowed to see them in person again. It is difficult to run the group online for participants with dementia, as it isn’t as easy for them to engage virtually, but we try to be there for them as much as we can to provide support and advice.

How does the group benefit people with younger onset dementia and their partners?

For the participants with dementia, it’s helps them to build confidence. Many people with dementia often don’t engage in social conversations as they lose their ability to communicate, so it’s great to be able to ask them a question and get their opinion on something. The group enables them to actively participate in a conversation, even if their communication is impaired. It’s also a very safe, supportive space. For instance, if someone has difficulty remembering a word, everyone is patient. Nobody is judgmental because they understand what each other is going through.

For the partners, one of the key benefits is the support they get from others in a similar situation. Their scenario of being in a relationship with someone with younger onset dementia can be quite rare, so to be able to share very openly about that struggle and get support from others in a similar situation is hugely therapeutic. They can also ask questions and get some helpful advice and ideas, either from me or from each other. It’s a real peer support experience for them.

Do people with younger onset dementia experience the condition differently to those who develop dementia later in life?

People with younger onset dementia tend to experience different types of loss to those who may develop dementia later in life - I suppose it’s the loss of a future they hoped to have. They may have had plans to reach certain career or personal goals, or may have recently married for a second time. Many of the clients I see are diagnosed with dementia while still working in successful careers, and end up leaving their jobs as their condition advances. Quite often they feel embarrassed and afraid to tell people they have dementia. Some people are diagnosed while they still have dependent children, and have to negotiate being a parent while dealing with the effects of the condition, such as memory loss and impaired language skills.

What’s your advice for clinicians on how to support people who have been diagnosed with younger onset dementia?

There’s so much stigma around the fact that dementia is a progressive disease. It’s often perceived that there’s nothing you can do and no way to help, so people with dementia and their families are frequently left to deal with it by themselves. There’s a book by Wendy Mitchell called ‘Somebody that I used to know’ about her experience of living with Alzheimer’s, and it includes this quote: “Dementia has a beginning before it has an end, and so much life to live in between. We’ve got so much to give, we just might give it in different ways, so don’t give up on us.”

I think that’s the message that we need to give people. People with dementia are genuine candidates for treatment. We’ve got to be more creative, and more sensitive in addressing the complex issues of dementia so that we can provide the support that people with the condition need, not just now, but into the future. Just as we do with other chronic health conditions, we need to assess them and continually monitor their progress to ensure that as their condition changes, we adapt to those changes.

When it comes to dementia, don’t take away people’s hope. If we can deliver a dementia diagnosis with a focus on treatment and support options available, then we can help to retain a person’s capacity to flourish as a human.

Adult speech therapy
Learn more

Andrew's story - A speech therapy case study

Andrew’s parents, Lisa and Jake, were concerned that Andrew had not started talking by 18 months of age. They met with Georgia, one of our speech therapists and talked at length to find out about Andrew’s early developmental and health history. Find out how Georgia was able to work with the family to provide strategies to progress Andrew’s communication to words.

Read more
+

Georgia talked to Lisa and Jake at length to find out about Andrew’s early developmental and health history.

Andrew was generally healthy and had met his milestones (other than language), except he had experienced middle ear infections between 12-18 months of age. Georgia also wanted to know how Andrew was communicating with his family. For example, would he turn to his name? Could he follow simple instructions? Was he pointing to request? Was he babbling?.

At the conclusion of the session Georgia wrote a referral to audiology, and provided the family with some strategies to progress Andrew’s communication to words. Andrew and his family attended six speech pathology sessions, and by 24 months of age he had developed 50 words and was putting two-word phrases together, and was now within the average range for language development for his age.

Children’s quality and feedback  

In early 2022 a survey was sent out to our children’s service client’s families to give feedback. While scoring a Net Promoter Score of +26, the respondents also gave us feedback on:

Convenience and accessibility

  • 78% said that services are delivered at a time that is convenient
  • 76% said that their children got the services they need

Client centred care

  • 95.7% felt they were able to participate in making decisions about the services their child receives
  • 95.5% said our staff were kind caring and respectful
  • 80% felt that the services their children receive help them live the best life

As a result of the feedback, work is being undertaken to improve our statements and to find more clinicians to help meet the volume of clients.

Children’s speech therapy
Learn more

“Our clients are amazing, and we love supporting them to achieve their NDIS goals! We are genuinely dedicated to finding ways to do this and would love to hear from you.”

– Beck, healthAbility Support Coordinator.

Making our clients experience positive

The last year has seen many projects commenced all with the goal of a positive client experience in mind.

Following the final stages of the merge between Carrington Health and healthAbility in 2021, we have run a series of Customer Journey Mapping workshops to look at our services and how we can improve what our clients and our community experience when they use our services.

Whilst the restrictions we were under during the pandemic made engaging with our community difficult, we were able to develop Journey Map’s for an online delivery.

Read more

Matthew's story

Matthew shares his journey with our Support Coordination service and how it has supported him to achieve his NDIS goals, which includes staying fit and healthy.

Support Coordination assists you to get your NDIS plan started and helps you to understand and manage all of the NDIS supports available to you. Matthew's Story demonstrates how our Support Coordinators can empower you to reach your NDIS goals.

Watch Matthew's storyDisability services team

Service delivery

Working together to make a positive difference in the outcomes for children

This year the Child, Youth and Families team partnered with early childhood, community health and research institutions to support, engage and promote the wellbeing of children in early years services more broadly.

Though the Coronavirus continued to disrupt the lives of children and families and the delivery of services and the team faced challenges around recruitment and  demand exceeding supply, we have ensured that crucial children’s therapy services were maintained, and even expanded our service offerings during this period.

Read more
+
  • Keeping the community safe whilst continuing to deliver paediatrician medical and allied health therapy to children and families
Read more
  • Participating in research and implementing new models of care to ensure timely access to care for our most vulnerable families
Read more
  • Building capability of early years services in the Inner Eastern Metropolitan through our partnership contract with Department of Education and Training and Access Health and Community.
Read more
  • Building capability of early years services across the state through our full fee ‘Bringing Learning to Life’ program
Read more
  • Expanding our paediatrician clinic to support our most vulnerable families through partnership with the Community Bank Blackburn South
Read more
  • Measuring clinical outcome to demonstrate high quality, evidence based interventions
Read more

Our Child, Youth and Famililes team

21Staff members in the
Child, Youth and Famiilies team
6Specialties including:
• Paediatrician
• Speech Therapists
• Occupational Therapists
• Psychologists
4,862Appointments provided
by our team
659Families supported through our one on one and group services
Children’s services
Learn more

Bridging the digital divide

While access to the internet and digital devices is becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives, many people still face barriers when it comes to digital access.

To help bridge the digital divide in our communities, our Health Promotion team worked with community health partners on a Digital Inclusion project that aimed to help our clients and community members to become more digitally connected.

Read more
+

The Digital Inclusion Project was an initiative that recognised and developed the creation of resources and training needed to equip our clients with the skills and knowledge they need, to access our services online.

What we did

  • Collaboration with the Health Promotion Team, lead by Alex Salmon to further develop and gain feedback on council area maps, for both the City of Whitehorse and Nillumbik Shire. The maps provide information to residents on where to access Wi-Fi, public computers, private rooms with internet connection and community training programs
  • Development of “Tech Together” – A friendly and supportive group environment, teaching clients how to access and use our online platforms, communicate via email, and the provision of paper resources (cheat sheets) to support at home
  • Developing new pathways within the healthAbility intake process. Providing our more technology confident clients with further information and links to additional training and or troubleshooting problems. For clients who require assistance in building their confidence, a pathway to our “Tech Together” sessions
  • Revision of telehealth work instructions and resources for staff

Upgrade of our dental sterilisation room

Over 4 weeks our sterilisation room at Box Hill was upgraded to meet current Australian standards (AS/NZS 4187:2014) to ensure we continue providing high quality dental services for clients.

During this time, Box Hill dental staff were relocated to our Eltham site to assist with providing dental services. Emergency dental vouchers were also available to ensure Box Hill clients requiring urgent care could still access treatment.

The works included the installation of a reverse osmosis water system, which is an upgrade from the filtered water system used previously. Doors and hatches have also been installed in various areas of the sterilisation room to improve functionality, and benches have been re-positioned to improve workflow.

This project was funded by a grant from the Victorian Government’s Metropolitan Health Infrastructure Fund.

“The sterilisation room plays such a vital role in how we deliver our dental services. This upgrade means that we can continue providing the highest quality of care and services for our clients, and it will create a more functional and efficient work environment for our dental team.”

- Deb Miller, General Manager Clinical, Community and Oral Health Services.

Dental services
Learn more
Our Dental team

Smile Squad - Expands to Eltham

Smile Squad launched in 2019 with much excitement but unfortunately due to COVID-19, unplanned disruptions caused services to cease during 2020 and 2021. This year however, thankfully Smile Squad was able to resume limited  operations to local schools in line with COVID-19 restrictions.

Read more
+

The dental team at Eltham where excited to receive the long anticipated arrival of the Smile Squad vans from Dental Health Services Victoria, which resulted in services launching from the end of November 2021.

It was a busy start for our Eltham Smile Squad team, having been to 7 schools for examinations and treatments, seeing 593 students. This is a remarkable achievement given that we have a small Smile Squad clinical team of only 2 part-time Oral Health Therapists.

Smile Squad has also continued relatively strongly from our Box Hill location into the 2021-2022 financial year, despite some dental staff shortages. The Box Hill Smile Squad team worked tirelessly visiting 6 schools, and seeing a total of 783 students for examinations and treatment.

Our Smile Squad Dental team

Using green screen technology to connect with families

Like many of our service areas, our Children, Youth and Families team has used telehealth to support and connect with families during COVID-19 lockdowns and beyond.

Members of this team, including Speech Pathologist Venentia Su, have taken telehealth to the next level by using green screen technology to engage with young clients and connect with families.

Read more

Renewal from within

Our people's wellbeing

At healthAbility we value our staff and their wellbeing. During 2021/2022 we activated a number of initiatives that promoted team or wider organisational health and wellbeing focus.

Read more
+

Kineo – Staff Learning Management System

We introduced Kineo which provided a range of resources to support staff learning and training needs. The portal provides staff with necessary certificates on completion and has a wide range of learning modules.

Employee Value Proposition

Our Employee Value Proposition was embedded after we invited our staff to tell us why they loved working with us and what they valued most. Some highlights were our supportive, kind, caring and ethical culture, multi-disciplinary teams and the opportunity for continually learning.

'Careers with Meaning' video

Supporting our people and delivering our Employee Value Proposition is a top priority, so we developed a recruitment video to further attract potential candidates to the organisation that share similar values. We interviewed several staff from key areas of the organisation and in their own words spoke to what they value about working with us.

Watch Careers with Meaning

Click image to enlarge

Leadership Development program

Managers were given the opportunity to upskill through a tailored course hosted by the Australian Institute of Management Leadership. As managers have demanding roles and are the key contact for many people in the organisation, the course helped them enhance their leadership skills which benefits all staff.

Access Health Wellbeing grant initiative

Thanks to a grant that was received in part of our Wellbeing funding in association with Access Health and Community and Inspiro, we were able to arrange some activities for our staff. From this grant we implemented -

  • ‘Work to wellness’ online group sessions
  • Team wellbeing and resilience sessions
  • The development, implementation and training of select Wellbeing Connectors across the community health organisations to support staff in addition to our Employee Assistance Program
  • A Wellbeing Well initiative enabling our people to nominate activities to foster engagement and reconnection within their teams resulting in approval of 9 funded team activities
  • The development and implementation of Personal Resilience Plans
  • Management training in facilitating Personal Resilience Plans for their team members
  • Manager mental health training

Working to wellness during COVID-19

Recognising that our staff have had to manage stress related to navigating the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams where given the opportunity to attend Group Wellbeing Sessions facilitated by psychologists at Cathartic Consulting.  This project was a collaboration between Austin Health and four close Community Health partners in the local COVID-19 response.

The initial aim was to promote post-Covid-19 psychological recovery and support the long-term psychological wellbeing of our health care workforces. The sessions provided a safe place for people to decompress and normalise the experience of talking about mental health problems and the stresses of life. The overarching aim was to provide attendees with short-term, solution-focused support around adversities that challenge their general wellbeing, health, workplace effectiveness or personal life.

R U OK day

Our people were encouraged and allocated time during our All Staff Meeting to get outside during lockdown period as well as online tools, resources and training.

Winter warmer

An initiative that allocated paid leisure time of two and a half hours for our people to enjoy at their discretion. Our people also had the opportunity to share a photo of how they spent their leisure time to win a competition with the prize of a voucher of their choice.

1,000 minute challenge

Our people were encouraged to form teams and raise money and awareness for Austin Health services during lockdown.

YMCA Australia’s online free workouts

Our people were provided access to a series of free online workouts to encourage them to be more active during lockdown periods.

Active April/Get Active Victoria

Our people were encouraged to participate in a new initiative from the Victorian State Government to inspire all Victorians to move more, every day.

Our People Wellbeing Survey and Team Action planning

To seek feedback to further improve our culture and work environment.

Footy tipping

Staff were given the opportunity to join in a weekly Australian Football League (AFL) tipping competition.

Our people and volunteer service awards and annual event

Key staff and volunteers are recognised for their years of service to the organisation.

Our people

313Staff are employed by us across 5 locations in a mixture of full time, part time and casual roles.

Our honour roll

4Employees service of
10 years+
2Employees service of
20 years+
3Employees service of
25 years+
1Employees service of
30 years+

Our longest serving employee is Alida Mercuri - Podiatrist at 34 years service.

Our longest-serving employees

54People have been with us for between 10 and 19 years
9People have been with us for between 20 and 24 years
2People have been with us for over 25 years

People celebrating anniversaries as of June 2022

Name
Anniversary
Position
Kathy Kandiliotis
10 year
Allied Health Assistant
Taraheh Elahi
10 year
Dentist
Cindy Tan
10 year
Receptionist
Clint Westig
10 year
Manager Needle and Syringe Program
Joan Lauricella
20 year
Family Support Worker
Alison Cooke
20 year
Occupational Therapist
Sandra Mezaks
25 year
Support Coordinator
Alex Salmon
25 year
Dietitan
Lisa Edwards
25 year
Children's Occupational Therapist
Edward Chan
25 year
Physiotherapist
Join us
Learn more

Keeping everyone safe through document management

Over the past two years, we have undergone one of our biggest projects as an organisation by reviewing and transferring our team's document management from multiple systems to one main system - Prompt.

Led by a Quality specialist, Jo Edwards and supported by staff from all of our teams, the project has resulted in us having one source for our important documents.

Read more
+

With the Prompt project officially ending on 1 July, below are some key figures that show how far we’ve come from when the project started:


100%Of our clinical governance documents are accessible on PROMT
600+Documents are being managed by teams

The completion of this project results in a growing number of teams reviewing and finalising their documents onto Prompt, including -

  • Aged Care and Disability teams
  • Connect Well Groups
  • Support Coordination
  • Health Therapies
  • In Home Community Support
  • Health Access Team
  • Mental Health
  • Children's Services
"It's really exciting to see that we were able to provide our clients, staff, referrers and partners with information that has been documents managed to ensure they are always receiving the the latest and most updated information."

- Amelia Watkins - Quality Manager


Bringing our community together under one name

Although our organisation celebrated a new and exciting era under the one name this year - healthAbility, we acknowledge a long history of supporting our communities. Although our name has changed over the years our purpose remains the same, to support people in our communities to enjoy better and longer lives.

In June 2021, our move to one name to created a more unified organisation for our staff and stakeholders, which helped us to deliver a better experience for our clients and better reflect the diversity of our community and the range of services we provide.

This process involved consolidating, redesigning and updating a number of our communication pieces to reflect our new one name. This included but certainly wasn't limited to, creating a new Brand and Communications Style Guide, creating a suite of internal communication tools, updating all stationary, replacing internal and external signage at all our locations, creating and developing a new suite of booklets and launching a brand new website.  

Watch Bringing our community together video

Our timeline

Building our safety culture

This year as our staff and clients returned to services delivered directly from one of our locations, our Occupational Health and Safety team completed a review of our Emergency Management Procedures. This involved reviewing all of our Emergency Codes across all of our locations to ensure continuality and that all of our responses where aligned.

Staff also undertook specific Emergency Code training to ensure they are appropriately trained on how to recognise, de-escalate and manage potential aggression from clients.

"Most of our clients are very appreciative and easy to service however occasionally we do have a client that presents with alleviated aggression towards our staff members. It brings me as a manager confidence knowing that my staff are accurately trained on how to manage these difficult situations."

- Amanda Allen - Administrative Program Manager Oral Health and Reception

Read more
+

New Risk Management Framework

Our Risk Management Framework looks at the potential risk that could occur that may harm our clients, staff or our services.

The purpose of the Risk Framework is to:

  • Support strategic objectives and operational resources
  • Optimise consumer experience and engagement
  • Ensure the wellbeing and safety of all employees, contractors and volunteers
  • Ensure all of our services are delivered safely
  • Ensure all adequately safeguards are in place  
  • Ensure all relevant legislation, regulations, codes of practice and standards are met
  • Continually review the framework for quality improvement

As part of the Risk Management Framework we reviewed our processes in particular to how we responded to unsafe situations and events, which included improvements in our staff training, procedures and work instructions. This has significantly increased our reporting and oversight of potential risk incidents and events.

Air-Conditioner upgrade (Metropolitan Health Infrastructure Fund (MHIF)

The Victorian Government’s Metropolitan Health Infrastructure Fund was established in 2020 to improve health services and agencies in metropolitan Victoria. The funding was made available to expand capacity, improve safety, quality and efficiency and deliver better care to patients, no matter where they live.

After successfully securing a grant, we have been able to upgrade the sterilisation room of our dental services (which features earlier in this report) at our Box Hill site and the air-conditioning at our Eltham site.

“The change in the building, especially on the couple of warmer days that we’ve had, is noticeable. All our consulting rooms, the bigger meeting/group rooms and the connecting hallways ‘feel the same’, there’s no stuffiness and the air feels like it is fresh all the time. It will make a real difference for staff and our clients as we provide services in the coming warmer months.”

Barry Phillips - Facilities Manager

Five air-conditioners that service our Eltham building were changed over for modern, energy efficient units, resulting in improved airflow and advanced temperature control, throughout the building. The capacity of the units will reduce both the ongoing cost of maintenance and operations ongoing, as well as tour carbon footprint. Although the old units met the fresh air recycling as per Covid-19 requirements, the new units have improved efficiency and effectiveness of this circulation, resulting in enhanced working conditions for staff, as well as a safe and comfortable environment for our clients. The project took place in stages, with installation during the spring so as not to impact services during delivery in summer.

Solar panels on track for a sunny future

Since being installed nearly 18 months ago, the solar panels on the roof at our Eltham center have enabled us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

The health of our communities relies on the health of our planet, so the decision to generate our own renewable energy was an easy one to make.

See our video for moreRenewable energy savings

Launching a new staff intranet

At the start of last financial year, we launched a new intranet to improve staff communication and engagement.

Needing to retire legacy systems and with hybrid working arrangements firmly in place for many staff, the need for a user friendly and accessible platform was evident. The decision was made to develop a Microsoft SharePoint communications website as our new intranet.

Read more