CareSouth’s Health Hub program, which first rolled out in our Berkeley Community Hub three years ago, is one of the organisation’s most successful and fastest growing services. The free community health checks include dental, optical and hearing, as well as speech and occupational therapy assessments, for up to 50 young people at a time in one convenient location.
The Health Hubs will be held in Berkeley, Nowra, Sanctuary Point and Goulburn next month, with plans to expand into the Western region next year. Funding from the IMB Community Foundation for the next three years has allowed CareSouth to increase the reach of the Health Hubs across our wide geographic footprint.
CareSouth’s Community Hub Development officer Natalie Nicastri designed the Health Hub model after recognising that accessing health care is difficult for families with multiple children. Having service providers in one location makes it easier for vulnerable families to access a range of health checks, without worrying about the high cost of health care, or getting to and from multiple appointments with different providers.
The Health Hubs also provide a pathway for referrals and follow up appointments so that families are able to make specialist appointments where required.
The program has proven so popular, services are often booked out weeks in advance. To cater for this growing demand, Natalie has created an online booking portal for the Health Hub programs. Bookings and medical questionnaires can now be completed online.
“The Health Hubs make it easier for families to access all the services they need in the one spot,” said Natalie. “Since the Health Hubs started, every session has been booked out. So there is obviously a need out there. The feedback from young people and their families who have attended the Health Hubs has been overwhelmingly positive, and in some cases life-changing.”
Natalie cites the case of a young boy who had significant hearing loss that went undetected until he had an audiology check at a Health Hub session.
“His mother was quite shocked when he was diagnosed with significant hearing loss, but relieved that it explained some of his problems with school and could now be addressed,” said Natalie. “The audiologist found that Australian Hearing, the largest provider of government-funded hearing services, was within walking distance and could do a more thorough assessment. So he walked with the family to the office and arranged for the child to have follow-up treatment.
“Another example of how the Health Hub can change lives involved an 11-year-old boy who saw a dentist for the first time. He had been living with the pain of broken teeth for three years and needed nine teeth removed. His mother hesitated to get help because she was embarrassed. But the young person received the help he needed, free of charge, through CareSouth's Health Hub.”
Due to the high demand for services Natalie took the Health Hub model on the road for the first time in April this year, visiting CareSouth’s Nowra and Goulburn offices. There are now plans to run Health Hubs in our Western Region from next year.
“It is even harder to access health appointments for multiple children in remote communities where families might have to travel hundreds of kilometres,” said Natalie. “A one-stop shop Health Hub will mean that those in remote areas have access to all their health needs in one place, in one day.”