Award-winning health app

Advanced Indigenous Health Worker, Karen Johnson and Director of Nursing/Facility Manager, Lorraine McMurtrie with the award-winning 'Advance Care Yarning' app developed in Goondiwindi.
Advanced Indigenous Health Worker, Karen Johnson and Director of Nursing/Facility Manager, Lorraine McMurtrie with the award-winning 'Advance Care Yarning' app developed in Goondiwindi.

A locally-developed health app has won state recognition.

The Advance Yarning App developed by Goondiwindi hospital's DON Lorraine McMurtrie in conjunction with reference groups, indigenous health workers and the Indigenous Advisory Working Group, won the overall eAward of the Year at the Queensland Health eAwards as well as the Collaborate and Connect category.

The app is designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to encourage open conversations about their end of life wishes and palliative care.

Once the app is launched you will hear a short first-hand account of how a man and his family were impacted when their ill uncle did not have a plan in place. The short and simple "yarn" then takes you on a journey while you sit on the river bank fishing. It includes four family-related questions, 13 about your wishes and 12 health care questions. It can then be printed and emailed, and is added to the Advance Care Plan website so it can be accessed no matter where the individual is receiving care.

"It's great for Goondiwindi," Mrs McMurtrie said about winning the awards... "Very exciting and surreal. I didn't set out for this. It was just a belief. I wanted people to have a choice. It's a team effort," she said.

"It all started because I noticed that at times when people needed their families to make decisions there could be differing opinions. There was nothing culturally appropriate available to assist, that wasn't mental health related."

In April 2017 the reference group had a yarn about their feelings and about making an Advance Care Plan which is where the framework including the river and yellowbelly fish came from.

In November that year the project was presented and chosen by the panel at Health Hack - an event that helps medical researchers, health professionals, tech and design wizards and students find innovative solutions to important health problems.

"From there, we kept going with the journey," Mrs McMurtrie said. "We launched on the 11th of February this year. We have presented at a number of conferences in the last few months. The Elders have asked us to share it widely. We will be rolling it out at Cherbourg and Toowoomba hopefully next month. We just hope to spread the word more.

"And I hope this will get more people talking. We should all have a plan; it doesn't matter who you are. We all need to stop and think about these decisions. The more planned for the future we are, the easier it is for everybody." You can complete your plan using the app with the help of advanced indigenous health worker, Karen Johnson, by contacting the Goondiwindi hospital. It is hoped the app will be available for Android soon.