Aboriginal People’s Experience of Hospital Care
- On September 8, 2021
- NSW Doctor, September/October 2021
Aboriginal People's Experience of Hospital Care
The Bureau of Health Information recently released a report on their ‘Insights Series’ of Aboriginal people’s experiences of hospital care, which found improvement in ratings of care.
THE BUREAU OF HEALTH Information (BHI) has been working with the Centre for Aboriginal Health to invite Aboriginal people to provide feedback about healthcare services through their NSW Patient Survey Program.
Aboriginal people’s feedback on their experiences of care provides important information on the performance of the healthcare system. It allows BHI to identify and report on where the system is performing well and where services could be improved to better meet the needs of Aboriginal people.
The report uses new analyses to explore Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people’s experiences of care, and for Aboriginal patients it examines differences in experiences at rural and urban hospitals, trends over time, and the impact of Aboriginal Health Workers’ involvement in delivering care.
Looking at the experiences of Aboriginal patients only, there were several key areas where Aboriginal patients in rural hospitals gave more positive ratings than Aboriginal patients in urban hospitals. For example, Aboriginal patients in rural hospitals gave significantly more positive ratings of doctors and nurses. Nevertheless, 69% of Aboriginal patients rated their care from doctors as ‘very good’ overall.
At NSW level, ratings of care provided by Aboriginal patients admitted to hospital improved significantly from 2014 to 2019 in several areas. This included Aboriginal patients’ overall ratings of nurses and whether they were given enough privacy.
This pattern of improvement was particularly evident in rural hospitals. Ratings declined regarding how well Aboriginal patients said their care was organised.
Aboriginal patients admitted to hospital gave lower ratings of how well health professionals worked together than non-Aboriginal patients, especially in rural hospitals.
There were disparities between the experiences of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients admitted to hospital for questions asking whether they were treated with respect and dignity, and whether their cultural beliefs were respected.
Over time, there has been a decline in Aboriginal patients reporting that hospital staff respected their cultural beliefs. High quality care includes clear communication of information about care, treatment and managing ongoing health conditions after discharge from hospital.
Across NSW, more Aboriginal patients reported receiving contradictory information and not getting the ‘right amount’ of information about their condition and treatment than non-Aboriginal patients.
The report revealed there were numerous positive experiences of care for Aboriginal patients. Being treated fairly and having trust and confidence in their doctors, were the main aspects of their positive experiences. Seventy-eight percent of Aboriginal patients said they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity. Around six in 10 Aboriginal patients said their overall care from doctors was ‘very good’.