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Making Health Better
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A key part of Marnie Stark’s role as the Community Development Officer for Deaf Services Queensland (DSQ) in Mackay is to support members of the deaf and hard of hearing community, and making sure they have equal access to information.

With nine out of 10 north Queenslanders now having a My Health Record, it was important that her members could access their record and know how it could benefit them.

Marnie sees My Health Record as an important tool for her community.

“It’s is not always possible to have an interpreter in an emergency situation, which can make the patients My Health Record an important way to communicate medical history, allergies and medication,” said Marnie.

“So the more information in a person’s record, the easier it is for everyone.”

Marnie asked Natalie Lorraway from the NQPHN Mackay Digital Health team to hold My Health Record information sessions for her members.

For the first session, DSQ engaged the services of a local interpreter to assist Natalie to communicate with their members.

Working this way was a real eye opener for Natalie.

“It gave me a glimpse into the day-to-day challenges deaf people face with regard to communication, and reconfirmed the need for simple and clear information about My Health Record,” Natalie said.

The session was a success, with people learning more about the My Health Record system and wanting one-on-one time with Natalie to explore their record and how it could support them to manage their health better.

Over the next two weeks, Natalie held one-on-one sessions supporting people to access their record. For the first session, a face-to-face interpreter was not available, so they used Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), an innovative technology that enables people to access an interpreter without being in the same room, or even the same city. For the remaining sessions, they worked with the assistance of a face-to-face interpreter.

Together they supported members to set any notification controls, added emergency contacts, and encouraged people to ask their GP to upload a Shared Health Summary when they visited next.

“Working with the interpreter meant we were speaking their language, which was so important, plus the one-on-one time meant we could work at each individual’s own pace,” Natalie said.

It was not only the members that benefitted. Marnie gained a more detailed understanding of the system and feels confident that she could support her members to access their records.

“I particularly see the benefits of when people are admitted into emergency, or if they are travelling around Australia,” said Marnie.

“To have a summary of your medical information accessible will save valuable time and money, and I am glad that I can now support my members this way.

“These sessions also worked because of the two organisations partnering up, and bringing our skills and expertise to provide a beneficial outcome for people in our community.”