Newly trained Care Navigators from the four GP Practices in Limavady celebrated their achievement at a recent awards event held in their honour on 30 April 2019.
Care Navigation, also known as Signposting, equips GP receptionists to help patients navigate through our complex health and social care system enabling them to access their most appropriate sources of treatment and care.
A first for Northern Ireland, the development of this innovative training programme was led by the Health and Social Care Board in partnership with GPs and practice staff from Limavady.
Congratulating the successful participants, Dr Margaret O’Brien, Head of General Medical Services at the Health and Social Care Board, said, “Today’s celebration recognises the hard work and dedication of the frontline support staff in the Limavady practices. The skills, flexibility and enthusiasm they demonstrate on a daily basis, as ‘ordinary people doing an extraordinary job’, have contributed to their achievement of becoming the province’s first Care Navigators.
“Demands on General Practice are growing through busier workloads and workforce challenges. In NI this is set to continue with an increased ageing population and rising prevalence of people living with long term and complex conditions.” Dr O’Brien stressed that, whilst this calls for practical solutions like the introduction of Care Navigation, this initiative is not about preventing GP appointments. “Any patient who needs to see their GP will still be able to do so.
“I would like to thank the GPs who facilitated the participation of their staff and our training providers, Dr Val McGarrell and Dr Brigid Smith. The training programme, designed by Dr Katherine MacLurg and Mrs Deborah Faulkner, supports the introduction of Care Navigation in time for the establishment of Multi-Disciplinary Teams in the area.”
Primary Care Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDTs), a key element of health and social care transformation, aim to provide better care closer to people’s homes and improved access times. Announced by the Department of Health in September 2018, Derry GP Federation area was earmarked, as one of the first two locations in Northern Ireland, for the roll-out of the MDT model.
Speaking at the event, Dr Windsor Murdock, Regional Multi-disciplinary Team Lead, outlined the benefits Multi-Disciplinary Teams will bring to the primary care sector. “Multi-Disciplinary Teams involve practice-based physiotherapists, mental health specialists and social workers working alongside doctors and nurses at GP practices. This approach will see patient issues resolved more quickly and enable practices to provide a broader range of more accessible services. In addition, patients will be supported in managing long-term conditions and dealing with lifestyle issues which can impact on their health.”
The Care Navigation course, delivered via a blended learning approach of five study days and nine weeks of mentoring and implementation, has already led to improved service provision through the application of learning and improvements to practice.
Dr Martin McCloskey, Local GP Federation Chair, said: “We are very impressed by the calibre of today’s participants and the tremendous resource they are within their practices. Experienced GP receptionists trained in Care Navigation can release clinicians from administrative pressures. Many of them were already signposting patients to appropriate services. Building on this further, the training has led to real, practical changes borne from participants’ enthusiasm inspired by their involvement on the Care Navigators programme.”
Further information about GP Federations and their aims is available here.