Using a hybrid study design incorporating participatory action research principles, researchers conducted an 18-month evaluation of the implementation of Neami’s Connect to Wellbeing (CTW) service. The study explored the effectiveness of the implementation, including barriers and enablers, as well as considering what outcome measures might best demonstrate client change and cost effectiveness.
Who is involved
James Cook University and Neami National
Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are charged with implementing stepped care services across Australia, to enable people to access the right care with the right intensity at the right time. One novel stepped care service is Connect to Wellbeing (CTW), delivered by Neami and funded by the North Queensland PHN. CTW is a central intake, assessment and triage service, connecting people with services that match their specific needs.
Despite the widespread adoption of the stepped care model, there is little evidence regarding the implementation of stepped care services, nor how they improve equity of access, improve consumer outcomes, or reduce attrition as people move through the mental health system.
Noting these gaps, this research used a hybrid study design to better understand:
- The process of implementing Connect to Wellbeing, including barriers and enablers, and
- How to measure the cost effectiveness of such services, through identifying potential outcome measures and conducting a value for money analysis
The process evaluation found evidence that by improving processes and removing waitlists CTW had created an opportunity to broaden the scope and type of psychological services offered which improved accessibility. This included the introduction of innovative and cost-effective services such as telehealth and group therapy. Service mapping the region increased understanding of service distribution and access barriers, as well as foster deeper relationships with service providers. Workforce flexibility and adaptability to internal and external impacts were crucial to ensure the service remained responsive to consistently high demand.
The assessment of potential outcome measures provided insight into suitable measures for future evaluation into service effectiveness, client health outcomes and value for money. There remains a need to find the right measures to determine the benefit of services like CTW, which are separate, yet related to, consumer outcomes arising from therapeutic care.
Sec. Public Mental Health
Volume 8 – 2020