WSLHD combats daily communication challenges in Multicultural Health using tool created during pandemic

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Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Multicultural Health Services team developed a ‘4M model’ to assist in health information delivery and community engagement for multicultural communities.

The 4M model captures a community engagement approach the team has used over the years.

The model breaks this down into key actionables and was a practical tool that helped during the COVID19 pandemic. It is now being applied to many multicultural communication challenges, on a daily basis in WSLHD, by breaking communication down into four components or pillars Mandate, Mission, Message and Messenger:

+The success of the 4M model starts with the first pillar: the Mandate, developing a shared mandate by establishing joint goals with the community, considering cultural and gender diversity. Discussing openly with the community to understand the health service goals and community needs. This leads to a community-centered, culturally responsive, and gender-sensitive health service support.

+ Mission (the second pillar of the 4M model) is focussed on empowering the community so they are part of the solution. The mission involves developing a specific strategy by identifying steps, assigning roles among community members and heath staff, fostering ongoing communication and recognising critical role the community plays. in keeping themselves and their families safe.

+The Message and Messenger (the third and fourth pillars of the 4M model) are pivotal in keeping the CALD community safe. The feedback received on community messaging, was that the messages needed to be from trusted sources and needed to be agile. All messages are developed with a health literacy lens and call for action.

The 4M model, developed by WSLHD’s Multicultural Health Team Leader Dipti Zachariah and her team, recognises community as an equal partner, builds capacity, ownership of information given to communities, respectful and effective delivery of information, and the use of platforms for community members to directly liaise with NSW health.

In order to provide effective support to different CALD communities, Dipti said, “It’s essential to understand how they have responded to health challenges, as well as their strengths, resourcefulness, beliefs, specific issues, needs and concerns.

“Unless you have a well thought through approach that keeps community at the centre, it becomes challenging to achieve an effective response, particularly in a pandemic, as we faced with COVID-19.”

Due to the differing needs and of each community, the team knew the messages had to be simple and suit the real need on the ground.

CALD communities   represent different cultures with differing worldviews. Understanding the unique needs of each community is essential, as a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work,” Dipti said.

The 4M model was used through a multidisciplinary team that consisted of WSLHD’s Multicultural Health Services, Corporate Communications, Health Promotion, Public Health, Consumer Council, Youth Health and the Health Literacy Hub.

Dipti said, “The most important part of this process is to gain the trust of the communities we are working alongside to encourage a collaborative approach to achieving positive health outcomes that are co-designed.

“Communities need to be part of the solution; only then will public health efforts be inclusive and meaningful. It is not us or them – it is we together!”

View the 4M community tool here: NEW4M.mp4 – Google Drive