In October 2020, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety published its report, setting out some of the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the sector. The aged care sector has long been in need of reform, it continues to struggle to meet the needs of its population, and the pandemic has made the issue more visible than ever before. The featured papers in this Special Focus comment on the changing trends in residential aged care use, the longstanding (and global) issue of an increasing older and more clinically complex population, the work of case managers in community aged care, and the value of advance care planning among residential aged care facility residents.
Australia needs a mental health system the community can rely on and long-term strategic and systemic reformation of mental health care is critical. The featured papers in this Special Focus comment on the Oakden Report and the agenda for change and organisational reform, the use of stepped care approaches to enable effective mental health care, the vital role of family carers and their partnerships with mental health providers, eMental health care as a treatment option for young people, the need to facilitate ongoing development of ‘lived experience’ roles, the scarcity of quality guidelines to address the physical health of people with severe mental illness, and the largely unrecognised and valuable skill set of the mental health nurse.
Hospitals globally are in the midst of a digital transformation. The featured papers in this Special Focus comment on the challenges and considerations of health services undergoing this rapid digital transformation and discuss decision-making processes for new technologies, what can be done to maximise the benefits of digital change, and the complex challenges of implementing and examining the effects of technology.
Dr Bronwyn Evans, CEO of Engineers Australia, was one of a select group, led by the Defence Department, who met in 2019 to ask the ‘What if…?’ and test Australia’s vulnerabilities. In Policy Reflection, she looks for the positives surfacing through the COVID-19 crisis and how we may build on these for a stronger Australia moving forward.
Every year has a few defining moments, but the paradigm shifts around the world in 2020 have been phenomenal with healthcare and the economy bearing the brunt of the crisis – one where there is no end in sight. In the midst of the inequities highlighted by COVID, June 30 marked Derek Feeley’s last day as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s President and CEO, the legacy he leaves is a greater questioning of the equity of healthcare improvement initiatives and ‘Who gets left behind?’ at a time of the rise of the global Black Lives Matter campaigns; a topic further explored by Dr Chris Bourke and colleagues looking at support for Indigenous health leaders.
The strength of nations and their governments are under the spotlight with SARS-CoV-2 – some have risen to the challenges; others have faltered with dire consequences. Ian Burgess, CEO, Medical Technology Association of Australia and Professor Stephen Duckett reflect on Australian leadership through the crisis and some of the lessons for future political and governance reform. Keeping healthcare affordable is a major focus in this issue. The economic onslaught of the pandemic will leave millions in financial dire straits adding to the numbers already struggling with the burden of healthcare costs. A heartfelt thank you to all those at the frontlines and behind the scenes who have cared for us and fellow global citizens.
19 March 2020 was Close the Gap Day. The four articles in this Special Focus highlight the continuing and urgent need to reduce health inequities and that Australians value health equity and outcomes for all.
There has never been a better time to acknowledge the great role of our nurses and midwives than as we tackle COVID-19. To celebrate this International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in 2020, we feature two Policy Reflections by esteemed nurse leaders and four articles that delve into issues facing policy and practice.
This Research Front focuses on the allied health workforce. It features a selection of articles that contribute to the evidence base to inform decision-making regarding allied health workforce policy, practices and research.