Technology Goes to Work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

A new palliative care app developed in Goondiwindi for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is being advanced as the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service (DDHHS) observes National Palliative Care Week from 20 to 26 May 2018.

Stakeholder workshop participants 2017 (002)A prototype of the Advance Care Yarning app has been reviewed by a reference group and cultural team and is currently out to tender for finalisation before being trialled by the Goondiwindi community, and then other Indigenous groups within the DDHHS.

The brainchild of Goondiwindi Hospital Director of Nursing/Facility Manager Lorraine McMurtrie, the app is designed to assist the wider population of Indigenous communities when it comes to understanding, discussing and making decisions about palliative care.

Mrs McMurtrie says the Ap is a big move forward.
“From yarning with the local Indigenous representatives, we learnt Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people view death differently to western culture – it’s more of ‘a spirit passing’.

The app needed to engage in conversation of their choices relating to family, health and wishes and it also needed to be depicted in a culturally and sensitive way.”

The prototype app was further developed in partnership with a team from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Queensland University, SAE Qantm and eHealth Queensland’s Digital Innovation and Strategy Unit at Brisbane’s Health Hack 2017, where it won first place/best design.

Mrs McMurtrie says it’s wonderful to be a part of a team that comes up with the next stage of the prototype app helping people to understand their rights and empower them to make choices about their end–of-life care.

The idea to develop the app came after Mrs McMurtrie identified that there were many palliative care obstacles and a lack of information for for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

She says she noticed that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages in her community were frequent and skilled users of technology including smartphones and tablets and that’s when the penny dropped.

“Access to palliative care is often impeded by late recognition of deteriorating patients and geographic challenges. The absence of culturally appropriate information or resources is often compounded by a lack of patient understanding and involvement in decision making, while socio-political factors – such as mistrust of mainstream services can also be a factor. “

“The new app will provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with opportunities to talk through what is important to them in a palliative care situation.”