It’s the most geographically dispersed health service in the world. The West Australian Community Health Service delivers community and aged care health services to a population of 560,000 across a geographic area of 2.5 million square kilometres (an area ten times the size of the UK).
Not only is this ‘tyranny of distance’ a massive challenge for the provision of health services, but also the needs of regional, rural and remote communities are changing. With an ageing population, there’s a greater number of older people as well as an increased range of conditions associated with living longer.
Ongoing professional development is essential for health workers to keep their skills up to date with current practice. However, access to in-person training for workers scattered across the state, often in small communities, was proving difficult.
The West Australian Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) which includes the WA Country Primary Health Network had the same challenges.
To address this training gap, the West Australian Community Health Service partnered with WAPHA to pool their resources and deliver necessary training across the state.
One of the first training gaps to be addressed was the skills and competencies of Unregulated Health Workers in assisting with medication administration.
WACHS and WAPHA identified elearning as a way to deliver training to their diverse staff that was available, cost-effective, consistent and accessible. They reached out to Elearn Australia to develop online learning modules.
A collaborative approach was taken with subject matter expert representatives (from WACHS, WAPHA and NGOs) forming a working group that met regularly with Elearn Australia's team to design the course.
Initial consultation identified the target learner group (Unregulated Health Workers) as geographically and demographically diverse. Many had low confidence using technology and limited access to computer support. English was often not their first language. Many were older and required more time completing training.
There was also a perception that online learning was isolating; that it didn’t allow for the interactivity and dialogues necessary to create real change, and that is was difficult to maintain motivation.
Drawing on the expertise and experience of the working group, Elearn Australia developed an online course (consisting of seven case studies) that allows health workers to improve their skills to assist with the safe administration of medication.
To make the learning content more accessible for this learner group and increase participant engagement, there was a conscious decision to include representation of target learners in the scenario-based content.
In each of the case study scenarios, rather than generic illustrations or medical photographs demonstrating techniques, photographs of real health workers assisting with medication to real residents in an aged-care facility were used. (Consent was obtained).
Once the modules were developed, thorough testing using members of the target learner group was undertaken.
Early feedback from users found the course easy to use (navigation, short case studies, interactivity), flexible (able to dip in and out as time allowed) and easy to understand (especially with audio narration).
Since going live in November 2018, over 500 case studies have been completed – with an 84% completion rate of the full course (all seven case studies). The course has also been accessed by non-government organisations in the region.
The success of this collaborative project has lead to WACHS, WAPHA and Elearn Australia to work together on a new project (with an even greater number of stakeholders) to continue addressing the training needs of the rural, regional and remote workers in Western Australia.
Contact us today to start designing and developing online learning tools for your learner group.