Orchestrating collaborative advantage in the health promotion workforce in Victoria

2017-02-27T23:17:55Z (GMT) by Joss, Nerida Alexandra
Forming partnerships for better health outcomes have become common practice for health and social care agencies. A major unifying theme in government and community agencies is the need to join up the components of systems, requiring organisations and their staff to get better at working together to enhance capacity within communities. This is particularly the case in the field of health promotion for which partnerships are beneficial to address the complex nature of health and social issues. Partnerships are complex situations that require high levels of skill and leadership to operate effectively. However, there is still a lack of understanding about what comprises an effective partnership in the health promotion field, and there are significant gaps in the literature, particularly with respect to the core competencies required by individual workers to undertake effective collaborative practice in health promotion. This thesis examines the drivers of collaborative practice in health promotion to understand the policy, organisational and individual factors affecting partnership outcomes. The aim of the study is to strengthen health promotion policy and practice by exploring the capacity of the health promotion workforce to achieve collaborative advantage. The research study answers the following research questions: • To what extent and in what ways do partnership policies influence collaborative capacity in health promotion service delivery? • How can inter-organisational relationships be strengthened for collaborative advantage in health promotion? • What are the essential skills and knowledge necessary for collaborative advantage in the health promotion workforce? The Victorian Department of Health’s Primary Care Partnership (PCP) Strategy was used as a setting for this research, in particular the Integrated Health Promotion (IHP) platform. The PCP Strategy is a network solution to ensure a greater level of collaboration and integration within the health care system through partnerships for catchment planning and strengthening of health promotion outcomes. A mixed methods approach was employed to provide quantitative and qualitative data with a concurrent triangulation design where data were merged in the interpretation stage of the study. An online survey instrument (n = 137) and in-depth interviews (n = 31) generated primary data. The IHP committee members and a small number of PCP staff from 16 PCPs completed the online survey while interviews were conducted across two PCPs (one rural and one metropolitan) with members of the committee, staff at each of the PCPs and Department of Health policy officers from regional and central offices. The results of this study indicate that partnership policy, the inter-organisational relationships between member agencies, as well as the skills and expertise of practitioners all impact on quality of collaborative practice. In particular, this study has successfully identified three core drivers for collaborative capacity for positive collaboration in health promotion. These are: the need to strengthen the collaborative competencies of practitioners working in health promotion, the provision of effective leadership for successful collaborative practice and the utilisation of performance indicators to provide direction towards collaborative advantage. From this research study, a competency framework has been developed for collaborative practice in health promotion that conceptualises the experience and learning level of practitioners from novice to expert. It has established that practitioners with excellent interpersonal skills can positively affect collaborative outcomes. This has been observed to be important for practitioners beyond the technical skills and knowledge base held by qualified practitioners. Practitioners feel under prepared from their studies but there is also a lack of understanding about the skills that are needed. Therefore, building the capacity for collaborative practice among the health promotion workforce through university curriculum development and professional development is essential for effective partnerships.