The Well Story
The Well is a flagship project for the Outer and Inner East Primary Care Partnerships, and represents one of the most comprehensive, innovative and data-rich tools for partner agencies working at a local level ever created – not just in Melbourne’s East, but across Australia. Compiling an ever expanding and frequently updated database of evidence, frameworks, evaluations and a truly exhaustive collection of local projects, partnerships and outcomes.
- What happens when you pool the collective knowledge, experience and evidence-base of Health Promotion Practitioners from the Eastern Metropolitan region of Melbourne?
- What if there was a place where local knowledge could reside and be updated in real-time?
- What could we achieve if we collectively operated from the same evidence base?
For years, leaders from the Outer East and Inner East Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs) had reflected on these questions, and whether they realised it or not, they had already started to lay the groundwork for what would ultimately become The Well.
The need for a resource such as The Well emerged from several local challenges:
- In the early 2010s, PCP partner agencies began to explore a more integrated approach to health promotion and client care.
- Key population health priority areas including social inclusion, gender equity and the prevention of men’s violence against women were emerging on a region-wide scale.
- Whilst many PCP partners across the primary health care and local government sectors were doing excellent work, there was a sense that understanding of these issues varied across the sector.
- Concurrently, information was not always shared as well as it could be, leading to disconnect in understanding what other agencies were working on, or what work had previously occurred in a particular area on a particular health issue.
- Additionally, there was recognition that knowledge often resides with individuals. When a long standing leader or expert moves on from a role or an existing project comes to an end we often risk losing the data, experience and relationships which came with them. Even if a thorough evaluation or evidence base had been created, the lack of a centralised location often meant these resources became buried in search results or outdated websites.
Initially, The Well was planned to purely capture research and evidence – a single place where data, successful project outcomes, indicators and newly published academic papers could sit. This would support practitioners in the development of their knowledge base and inform day-to-day work, whilst also ensuring there was unified understanding of the evidence underpinning responses to complex social and health issues.
As The Well entered a testing and feedback phase in May 2017, partner agencies provided invaluable feedback to PCP staff. Whilst a strong need existed for an accessible repository for locating evidence-based information, there was also a desire beyond to share examples of work that would enhance connection and partnership development at the local level. Stepping further into a co-design approach to The Well, partner agencies worked alongside the Outer East and Inner East PCP staff to build a comprehensive database of preventative health-related work across the catchment.
The PCP partner agencies and collaborators worked tirelessly with staff over the coming years to build this evidence base, and in April 2018 The Well was officially launched. Monthly e-bulletins keep partner agencies informed about additions and changes to the portal; highlighting useful practitioner resources and the latest updates to the website on projects, resources and events across the region.
Following a partnership with Eastern Volunteers an Outcomes Framework was developed and the evaluation undertaken in May 2019 showed consistently high monthly engagement with The Well on which has remained consistent since launching in 2018.
Growth & Expansion
A mobile/tablet friendly version of the website along with a LinkedIn presence was launched in 2019, with an Instagram platform following in December 2020. The Well enews and social media profiles have built a greater understanding of The Well and what it offers and have helped to build trust, confidence and credibility for The Well and how it can be of value to local organisations and practitioners. The social media profiles have enabled news and updates on local work to reach a wider and more diverse audience and so increase awareness of The Well and to grow its community.
Strength in Local Relationships
The Well builds on and celebrates the strength of the relationships which exist between the Outer East and Inner East PCPs and their partners. Whether partner agencies are reaching out to the PCP with new information or vice-versa, The Well has strengthened these networks through information sharing and continues to build workforce capacity and knowledge in the region across sectors in truly unprecedented and invaluable ways. It provides both a platform for practitioners to profile their work and to understand what is happening across the catchment.
Users of The Well can navigate through sections designed to support Learning, Planning, Sharing and Connecting and discover comprehensive information on numerous priority social, health and wellbeing issues relevant to the region and the macro level.
“I love that The Well is a tangible, quantifiable resource demonstrating all the high-level values a PCP can deliver – a platform to collaborate and partner with agencies in the region, a central repository of information and resources to improve evidence-based practice. It is a tool that easily translates conceptual frameworks and ways of working into practical tools and steps. Most of all, The Well demonstrates the very best things about PCPs – our local knowledge. We are the only agency that has the historical context and grassroots knowledge of a region – and The Well levelled-up that value by housing all this wisdom in the one place, ensuring it will live on no matter who passes through.” – Kelly Naughton, OEPCP
The process of building The Well facilitated a deeper understanding of what partner agencies need to best inform and deliver their practice; reinforcing a ‘partner first’ approach to delivering the resource. The co-design elements of the project created a strong sense of shared ownership by agencies, as a resource the catchment genuinely built together.
Ultimately, The Well has unified agencies in the Eastern Metropolitan Region in unprecedented ways. The website has built a strong legacy for deepening knowledge, creating shared understanding across the many levels of the service sector and significantly reduced duplication and competition when seeking to tackle complex social and health issues.
The Well represents the genuine power of Primary Care Partnerships and the knowledge, relationships and collaboration they have been uniquely positioned to foster.
*This article first appeared in Powerful Collaborative Partnerships, a commemorative document celebrating 21 years of the Inner East and Outer East PCPs. The article was compiled by Alex Mills with contributions from PCP staff.