Calvary Mater Newcastle VIP patient program receives worldwide recognition

Calvary Mater Newcastle received worldwide recognition for its Very Important Patients (VIP) Program at the 41st International Hospital Federation Congress in Taipei on 8 November 2017. With 131 entries, from 90 organisations in 24 countries competing for the awards, being selected as one of the finalists is a recognition that the entry was among the best in Corporate Social Responsibility activity in the world.

The VIP Program, a program that aims to improve patient’s quality of life and reduce re-admissions, was a finalist in the International Hospital Federation and Bionexo Excellence Award for Corporate Social Responsibility category of the 2017 International Awards of the International Hospital Federation.

The VIP Program, Very Intensive Patients – Very Important Priority, is meeting the health and social care needs of patients at Calvary Mater Newcastle at risk of re-presentation/re-admission to improve their quality of life and reduce their need for hospitalisation.

Calvary Mater Newcastle staff identify patients at risk of re-presenting to hospital, to both reduce this risk and improve their quality of life, by addressing the remedial social and clinical factors that result in them needing hospital care.

A VIP is a patient who represents to the Emergency Department more than eight times in 12 months or a patient who has been re-admitted to hospital, in an unplanned way within 28 days of their last stay, more than four times in the past year.

Roslyn Barker, Assistant Director of Nursing, said, “By asking patients simple questions such as ‘what brought you back to hospital?’ and ‘how can we help?’ we can work with  our VIPS to develop care plans to target and address what is important to the patient which may be different to what we as clinicians may believe.

“By listening to patients and understanding the social determinants of health factors which impact on the patients’ health, we can tailor personalised support from our community partners to best meet patient needs and reduce readmission rates.”

Since the VIP Program was implemented in July 2015 to October 2017 VIP re-admission rates have fallen by 29%.  Identifying and addressing the needs of VIPs within the community has improved the quality of care offered in the hospital to the benefit of the whole community. Feedback from the VIPs includes feeling involved in decisions about their health so they can get the help they need.

Calvary Mater Newcastle has been working closely with NSW Ambulance Service to ensure the success of this project. The project was also successfully implemented at Maitland and Kurri Kurri Hospitals.

Roslyn Barker accepted the award on behalf of Calvary Mater Newcastle. A joint sponsorship between First State Super and State Plus enabled Roslyn to attend the congress. Peter Hogg, Regional Manager of StatePlus Newcastle and Michael Smith, Regional Manager of First State Super Newcastle, stated, “We are proud to support an initiative that promotes patients wellbeing and the flow on benefits to the broader community.  The VIP Program is another example of the incredible work that the team at the Calvary Mater Newcastle is undertaking and we are very excited that they have received worldwide recognition for this great work.”

Last year, at the 2016 Hunter New England Local Health District Excellence Awards, the VIP Program was the winner of the Agency for Clinical Innovation Award for Innovation at the 2016, as well as being a finalist in the Integrated Health Care Award category. The program was also a finalist in the NSW Premier’s Award. Additionally at the March 2016 Health Roundtable (HRT) Conference, New Zealand, the VIP Program was voted the re-design initiative delegates most wanted to learn more about.