RSL Outreach Clinic
The Cygnet RSL Club After Hours Clinic’s model aimed to increase access to health services for returned veterans and their families, by providing health checks and health education by a Registered Nurse, in a supportive and trusting environment. The nurse clinic was held within the local RSL club on the usual monthly Friday night social gathering. Anyone is eligible to meet with the nurse regardless of which usual general practice they attend. People without a regular health practitioner were also encouraged to seek appropriate health support when required. A significant part of this initiative was to address the reluctance of men, especially returned veterans, to seek support for their health.
A health questionnaire template was used to record blood pressure readings, height, weight, BMI, ask questions about diet, activity levels, use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances, and past mental health history. This enabled the identification of potential risk factors or health concerns, which could then be directed to the person’s usual GP or health professional for appropriate follow up.
Support for this clinic was funded through APNA Nurse Clinic grant monies as no Medicare funding support is available for this outreach model. This model is therefore not sustainable by the practice in its current format, after the project ended. Cygnet Family Practice staff had been invited to present the model at RSL Tasmania’s State Conference 2020 to encourage a state-wide approach and potential rollout of this model funded through veteran support funding streams. The conference was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic; however, the model remains a focus for discussion with RSL state leaders. The health and well-being benefits of this program could be easily continued with minimal nurse funding of 2-4 hours/month.
Qualitative data was difficult to obtain as most information gathered was done so by way of informal conversations. This model of care centers around building a trusting relationship between the veteran and the nurse and encouraging them to reach out for professional treatment and support as an early intervention. It is hoped that these initial conversations lead to an increased health self-awareness and proactive interventions.
- 16 people aged between 30 – 80 years completed a health questionnaire
- 12 people had their blood pressure taken and recorded
- 5 people had their height, weight and BMI recorded
- 12 people had smoking status recorded. 4 people were current smokers and 8 people identified as non- or ex-smokers.