Testing a model of facilitated reflection on network feedback: a mixed method study on integration of rural mental healthcare services for older people
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OBJECTIVE: To test a management model of facilitated reflection on network feedback as a means to engage services in problem solving the delivery of integrated primary mental healthcare to older people. DESIGN: Participatory mixed methods case study evaluating the impact of a network management model using organisational network feedback (through social network analysis, key informant interviews and policy review). INTERVENTION: A model of facilitated network reflection using network theory and methods. SETTING: A rural community in South Australia. PARTICIPANTS: 32 staff from 24 services and 12 senior service managers from mental health, primary care and social care services. RESULTS: Health and social care organisations identified that they operated in clustered self-managed networks within sectors, with no overarching purposive older people's mental healthcare network. The model of facilitated reflection revealed service goal and role conflicts. These discussions helped local services to identify as a network, and begin the problem-solving communication and referral links. A Governance Group assisted this process. Barriers to integrated servicing through a network included service funding tied to performance of direct care tasks and the lack of a clear lead network administration organisation. CONCLUSIONS: A model of facilitated reflection helped organisations to identify as a network, but revealed sensitivity about organisational roles and goals, which demonstrated that conflict should be expected. Networked servicing needed a neutral network administration organisation with cross-sectoral credibility, a mandate and the resources to monitor the network, to deal with conflict, negotiate commitment among the service managers, and provide opportunities for different sectors to meet and problem solve. This requires consistency and sustained intersectoral policies that include strategies and funding to facilitate and maintain health and social care networks in rural communities.
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