Fu­ture fo­cus

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page -

Re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne’s Depart­ment of Ru­ral Health have been vis­it­ing homes in Be­nalla this week as part of the Cross­roads Re­search Project.

The re­search aims to pro­vide lo­cal health ser­vices and part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions with in­for­ma­tion to help plan for the fu­ture and the chang­ing needs of peo­ple in Be­nalla.

This project is a 15-year fol­low-up to re­search that was un­der­taken when the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne built their Depart­ment of ru­ral Health in Shep­par­ton in 2002.

Project leader Pro­fes­sor David Sim­mons said the first sur­vey looked at ac­cess to health ser­vices, the preva­lence of dif­fer­ent con­di­tions and whether they were un­di­ag­nosed or not in the Goul­burn Valley.

‘‘We ac­tu­ally had 7000 peo­ple across the Goul­burn Valley par­tic­i­pat­ing, and we showed clearly there was a need for ad­di­tional health ser­vices,’’ Pro­fes­sor Sim­mons said.

‘‘Data and re­ports were handed to dif­fer­ent health ser­vices across the dis­trict and they were used to get fur­ther re­sources and to im­prove those ser­vices.

‘‘So we’re re­peat­ing that study and we’re look­ing at the same things.

‘‘So we look for if there is a need for a health ser­vice, what are the is­sues around that need, what do we need to do to ad­dress that need and then how has that need changed in the past 15 years.

‘‘We know there have been changes in ac­cess to health ser­vices and we’re go­ing to look to see if there’s a re­la­tion­ship be­tween the changes in ac­cess and the changes in un­di­ag­nosed con­di­tions.’’

The 2002 re­search pro­vided base­line data, which gave re­searchers a snap­shot of health is­sue and ser­vice re­quire­ments around those is­sues.

Re­searchers will use the data col­lected as part of the cur­rent project to firstly see if the changes made in re­sponse to the orig­i­nal data have been ef­fec­tive, but also to un­der­stand what changes need to be made in the fu­ture.

‘‘We al­ways saw this project as some­thing which we wanted to come back to and have a look in the fu­ture,’’ Prof Sim­mons said.

‘‘Fif­teen years later, if you have a look at ac­cess to Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers for ex­am­ple, in some of the towns in the Goul­burn Valley that has im­proved.

‘‘There are so many changes re­ally, so we’d like to see how those changes re­late to the changes in dis­ease pat­terns and risk fac­tors across the dis­trict, so now’s re­ally a per­fect time for it.’’

Re­search as­sis­tant Fulya Torun is part of the team col­lect­ing data in Be­nalla, she said that lo­cal peo­ple have been very help­ful.

‘‘We ask peo­ple ques­tions about their health and the health ser­vices they have been ac­cess­ing in the last 12 months,’’ Ms Torun said.

‘‘We ask if they have any con­cerns about the med­i­cal ser­vices in the area, and then there are some lifestyle ques­tions about food be­hav­iour and eat­ing habits.’’

Par­tic­i­pat­ing house­holds are se­lected at ran­dom, so if you would like to take part sim­ply wait to see if you get a knock at your door.

Work­ing hard: Cross­roads Project Team, Pro­fes­sor David Sim­mons, Dr Kris­ten Glenis­ter, Amanda Clark­son and Fulya Torun.

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