The 2011-12 Australian Health Survey revealed that 25.5% of adults in the ACT are obese. In 2013 the ACT Government released its Towards Zero Growth – Healthy Weight Initiative and an Obesity Management Service (OMS) was funded in the 2013 ACT Budget.
The OMS Model was developed through literature review, consultation with existing services in Australia and input from local stakeholders. The OMS targets adults referred by their General Practitioner and other Medical Specialists with Class III Obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40kg/m2 and above. The service provides a multidisciplinary approach to help patients identify, implement and sustain changes in health behaviour. The OMS is staffed by a Medical Specialist, Medical Registrar, Registered Nurses, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist and Clinical Psychologist, and a consumer advocate.
The OMS commenced accepting referrals in January 2014 and saw its first patients in February 2014. Patients undertake an initial assessment with medical and nursing staff and develop an Obesity Management Plan in collaboration with their Case Manager to improve their risk factor profile. Patients receive individual and/or group-based treatment programs focusing on physical activity, nutrition and psychological strategies. Patients review their progress regularly with their Case Manager and it is anticipated they will be engaged with the OMS for a minimum 12 months.
The service has been established in a new community health centre with appropriate bariatric facilities. In addition to the expected operational difficulties of commencing a new service, challenges include matching referral volume to service configuration including commencement of groups, non-attendance, refining models of case management and care coordination, interdisciplinary training and engagement with community groups to increase available resources and services in the ACT. The service is still evolving and referrals to date reinforce the importance of a specialised multidisciplinary obesity service in the ACT.