Equally Well, a New Zealand collaborative initiative to improve physical health for people experiencing mental health and/or addiction issues, was the topic of a presentation that won the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) Best Paper Award at the 4th World Congress on Integrated Care, last week in Wellington.
The Congress, opened by Health Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman, brought together people working across the health care sectors from all over the world to exchange knowledge, experience and new ideas in the design and delivery of integrated health and social care, with over 150 papers presented over three days.
The top prize winning paper, “Equally Well – together we are making a difference” was based on the unique New Zealand initiative, Equally Well. Presented by Helen Lockett, from the Wise Group, the paper was written in partnership with Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, Platform Trust and the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. (Helen is pictured above being presented the award by Ray Lind, Careerforce CEO)
The presentation highlighted the ‘wicked issues’ in respect to physical health faced by people who experience mental health and addiction, and shared some of the best practice initiatives being undertaken in New Zealand, particularly around integrated care between specialist mental health and addiction services and primary care and how policy and strategy has been affected by the work of the Equally Well collaborative. “At the end of the presentation I challenged people to do at least one thing that day, such as endorsing the consensus position paper, raising awareness amongst peers, or changing the way they practice to recognise the physical health of people who experience mental health or addiction issues” said Helen.
Robyn Shearer, chief executive of Te Pou o Te Whakaaro Nui said, “We were really pleased to have the opportunity to highlight the health disparities of those experiencing mental health and addiction issues. To be announced as winners of the IFIC award is recognition of the great work of the more than 90 organisations that make up the Equally Well collaborative, and shows the wider health sector is taking these issues seriously”.
“A stellar example of how people-centred integrated care should look.”
A scientific committee made up of international experts worldwide reviewed all the submitted papers and developed a shortlist for the award prior to the conference. The best paper was then chosen based on feedback from delegates after the presentation.
IFIC’s Head of the Integrated Care Academy, Dr Viktoria Stein said “the abstract and presentation ticked all the boxes in terms of the selection criteria for the Best Paper Award (quality of content/methodology, innovativeness, impact/relevance for integrated care, quality of presentation), but more importantly in terms of the key enablers and levels, which need to be addressed in order to create sustainable integrated care. The initiative managed to engage stakeholders from all sectors, including for example, housing, pharmacists, GPs, and across all levels, from system to local, in order to deliver holistic care to a group of people usually left out. Providing person-centred care for people with addiction and mental health issues, agreeing on a national strategy and then supporting bottom-up activities to co-design appropriate solutions in partnership with the clients and communities is a stellar example of how people-centred integrated care should look like.”
People who experience mental health and addiction issues die much earlier than their counterparts in the general population, with a two to three times greater risk of premature death. Two-thirds of this premature mortality is due to preventable and treatable physical illness, particularly cardiovascular diseases and cancers (Cunningham et al, 2014).
Equally Well uses the principles of collective impact to bring about change at both a system and service delivery level across the health and health-related sectors, to address this disparity.
World Congress on Integrated Care
The Congress was convened by The International Foundation of Integrated Care (IFIC), in partnership with General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ), Health Quality and Safety Commission (HCQSC) and the Ministry of Health and was opened by the Health Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman and closed by Minister Bill English.