Rigour and collaboration evident in the new CareSearch portal
A blog post written by Professor Virginia Lewis, Research Chair in Community Health, Australian Institute of Primary Care and Ageing, La Trobe University
Critically examining the rationale of why programs do what they do has always made sense. In an online world where proliferation of information and resources is exponential it is now even more important.
With the increasing and complex healthcare needs of our population and the current socioeconomic climate, programs and organisations need to be able to demonstrate the clear link between what they are doing and what they seek to achieve.
My involvement with the CareSearch Project as health services researcher and evaluator started in 2014. From the outset, I was impressed with the way the CareSearch Project team led by Professor Jennifer Tieman examined the ‘whys’ of what they were doing. In building their website, the team methodically thought about the causal pathways of what they do and how they can change palliative care practice and experience.
The new CareSearch Portal has been developed using the same strict quality processes. Its functionality and content have been strengthened in response to evidence and experience, as well as understanding what are the needs of patients, carers, families, health professionals, and other stakeholders.
For instance, the project has made the Dying2Learn Massive Online Open Course more accessible as a hub in the new portal. Research outcomes with diverse cultural groups have been used to inform the Diversity Hub’s content and accessibility so that the project can contribute to addressing the barriers that our underserved populations face. The CareSearch Project lives and breathes evidence, and in developing the new portal, we can see that the team has applied the same rigour and thoughtfulness in their work.
The CareSearch Project, however, is extremely aware that just providing evidence is not enough to change practice. The team understands that stakeholders work in various contexts and settings, and have different ways of engaging with information. In 2018, the team implemented an engagement project with three main groups: patients, carers and families; allied health; and aged care. The findings from this project have also been used to guide the development of the new portal.
Collaborative partnerships are also evident in the new CareSearch Portal and from our previous evaluations of the project. The team works to build cooperative relationships with various palliative care projects, organisations, and individuals. They use these stakeholder relationships not only to build awareness and reach, but also to support others to be more effective in their work.
For me this is impressive, especially now when we live at a time where people can be defensive and competitive to be recognised. The way that the CareSearch Project engages respectfully with others in the same space can be a model of how healthcare initiatives can work together to be more efficient and effective.