Building Workforce for Chronic Disease and Complex Conditions: A Qualitative Investigation of Care Coordinators' Role Perceptions

Heslop L and Cranwell K


Background: Within interdisciplinary fields of healthcare that focus on chronic disease and complex condition management across an integrated continuum of services, there is growing emphasis on workforce reform strategies to update and expand clinical roles. In particular, different configurations of clinician teams have emerged to support older adults and others with complex health and social needs. This qualitative study sought perspectives from an emergent care coordination workforce that provide such support. The purpose of the study was to capture the views and experiences from this workforce as a means to understand the characteristics of their role; and the values care coordinators perceived to be placed on the role by external clinical colleagues. Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was supported by purposive sampling of 57 care coordinators located at a metropolitan Local Health Network in Victoria, Australia. Data was obtained from several focus groups in the form of detailed notes and verbatim quotes then analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results: Care coordinators’ held values about their role that were conceptually related to three key characteristics: 1) The whole person approach: making a difference to people’s lives; 2) Autonomy; and 3) Practice wisdom. With regard to their viewpoints about how external colleagues perceived the role, content themes of ‘picking up all loose ends’ and ‘waving the magic wand’ emerged. Conclusion: These qualitative findings suggest that care coordinators bring a unique and somewhat sharedpractice perspective that could significantly build the interface between acute episode-based and chronic care. The findings are of interest to healthcare organizations investing in holistic workforce capability to support chronic disease and complex condition management within integrated service delivery models.

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