Collaboration as an agent for improved sub-acute care for rural consumers

Dr Belinda Gavaghan1, Jennifer Finch1


The Transition to Sub Acute (T2SA) care project was undertaken between 2017 and 2020 and sought to increase access to rehabilitation closer to home for patients from rural and remote communities in central and northern Queensland.

An inter-agency, multi-regional collaborative was formed to progress the T2SA project that included hospital and primary care service providers. The collaborative applied a service improvement methodology to explore issues and barriers, agree on common goals and share responsibility for action. The collaborative as an agent for change was assessed through an independent qualitative evaluation using focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders and applying the VicHealth partnership analysis tool.

Members reported that the collaborative had a positive influence for change, that its processes helped to align a diverse group, and that it fostered relationships and trust between members. The collaborative’s membership was predominantly allied health professionals, which limited the group’s ability to influence other professional groups and organisational units that direct patient transfers and determine change of care type. Sustainability of the collaborative beyond the project phase is a current challenge.

Influencing and effecting improvements in the patient journey for rural and remote consumers transitioning from acute to rehabilitation to community care has required sustained collaboration and partnerships between allied health service providers. Learnings from the T2SA Collaborative may be applied in other regions and clinical areas that are planning improvements to access and experiences of care for rural consumers.


Jenny Finch is a physiotherapist by background with a diverse range of clinical and health management experiences both in Australia and internationally, in less industrialised countries. She has an extensive background in health service development and workforce reform. Currently Jenny is working within the Queensland Department of Health Allied Health Professions’ Office and is supporting work related to allied health workforce reform and service redesign. In previous positions she has been responsible for leading strategy development for the allied health professionals at a health service and statewide level.

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