I am
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Australia, but the burden of disease disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Key takeaways

  • The Lighthouse Hospital Project aims to reduce the impact and incidence of discharge against medical advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples through better in-hospital and post-hospital cardiac care  
  • By improving the patient journey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face a with heart disease, we can enhance their ability to live well and longer. 
  • Many factors contribute to the negative experiences Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples feel when in hospital, including racism, discrimination, and cultural insensitivity.  

Since 2012 the Australian Government has funded the Lighthouse Hospital Project, in response to these heart health disparities and to help close the heart health gap. 

Improving heart health with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples  

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Australia, but the burden of disease disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia.  

The Lighthouse Hospital Project is a joint initiative between the Heart Foundation and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) to improve health and care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with CHD.  

Since the program’s launch in 2012, it’s enabled better in-hospital and post-hospital cardiac care, through improved hospital systems and fostering cultural competence in acute care staff.  

The Lighthouse Project has a sustained focus on supporting more hospitals to reduce rates of discharge against medical advice (DAMA) for their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with CHD.  

Improving the patient journey 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients face a range of barriers to accessing quality healthcare, including:  

  • Communication breakdowns in the coordination of care between hospitals and the primary care sector 
  • Less access to medical treatment. They may need to travel vast distances (even interstate), which can mean they are without their family, friends and support network 
  • They may feel isolated and overwhelmed, especially if they are unfamiliar with the hospital environment, the local area, services or the local languages. 

Fortunately, the program outlines actions that can improve post discharge care. This can improve patient health and reduce a patients’ likelihood to re-present at emergency departments. 

Other actions to improve the patient journey include providing access to telehealth and enhancing relationships and coordination of care. 

Cultural experience 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples tend to have negative experiences with institutions of all kinds, including hospitals. These negative hospital experiences can impact the level of comfort Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples feel when during their stay in hospital, and likeliness to return for future treatment. 

Many issues contribute to these negative experiences, including:  

  • Racism and discrimination, and   
  • A ‘one size fits all’ approach that doesn’t acknowledge and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultures and differing views on health. 

Change for the better 

The Lighthouse Hospital Project demonstrates that better health outcomes can be achieved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through improved patient experiences and culturally responsive and flexible care.  
Phase three evaluation highlighted that more than three-quarters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with ACS surveyed in Lighthouse Hospitals rated their hospital experience as ‘very good’ or ‘good’.  

During phase three, hospitals made progress in strengthening: 

  • Engagement and relationships with community organisations, such as Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCHOs) and Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) 
  • The prominence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and values in hospital environments  
  • The integration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers with ACS care teams 
  • Staff capacity to provide culturally appropriate patient-centred care 
  • Clinical processes related to admission, identification, discharge and post-discharge care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient admitted with an Acute Coronary Syndrome 

Alignment with Government initiatives    

The Lighthouse Hospital Project aligns with the Better Cardiac Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ program. The Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council identified the program as a national priority, with a focus on improving access to guideline-based therapy for acute coronary syndrome, within a culturally safe and appropriate environment. 

The project supports a range of Australian Government policies, programs and strategies which seek to reduce disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including inequalities in health outcomes and life expectancy. 

You might also be interested in

What is FoodTrack?

What is FoodTrack?

What is FoodTrack?

FoodTrack supports the collection and monitoring of nutrition and product data for foods and beverages in Australian supermarkets. ...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart Health Projects

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart Health Projects

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart Health Projects

Projects aimed at improving the heart health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ...

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Would you like to improve the cardiovascular health of your patients?...

For professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples identification training

For professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples identification training

Asking the Question of Origin course helps with identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, in line with standard practice.  ...

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

The Blueprint for an active Australia provides evidence-based actions to help address physical inactivity....

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

For Professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples information and resources

Resources for providing best practice cardiovascular care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples....

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

We need your opinion, experience and skills to help us improve the heart health of all Australians. ...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. ...

Heart health submissions to Government

Heart health submissions to Government

Every day we are lobbying government and industry to improve heart health....

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Research Directory

Research Directory

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

1 hour
Serves Serves 4 (as a main meal)

Clinical resources: Coronary heart disease and mental health

Clinical resources: Coronary heart disease and mental health

The prevalence of depression is high in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD)....

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Statistics and information on heart failure in Australia ...

WEBINAR | Navigating the latest updates on CVD prevention

WEBINAR | Navigating the latest updates on CVD prevention

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup

35 minutes
Serves 4

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

Heart attack at 35: Knowing the signs and symptoms

David reflects on how his life changed when he had a heart attack at 35 and how he got back on track....

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Every dollar that you donate will help fund research, support and programs that help save lives....

Fruit and nut muesli

Fruit and nut muesli

Fruit and nut muesli

WEBINAR | Lipids in the limelight: clinical update on screening and management

WEBINAR | Lipids in the limelight: clinical update on screening and management

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Clinical information and links to SCAD resources....

Mushroom, feta and thyme omelette

Mushroom, feta and thyme omelette

10 minutes
Serves 1

Heart Foundation supports Wollongong City Council’s draft 10-year cycling strategy

Heart Foundation supports Wollongong City Council’s draft 10-year cycling strategy

Heart Foundation supports Wollongong City Council’s draft 10-year cycling strategy

Media Release - 30 June 2020 ...

Sodium and salt converter

Sodium and salt converter

Convert the sodium listed on food products into grams of salt or vice versa. ...

Absolute CVD risk clinical guidelines

Absolute CVD risk clinical guidelines

The Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk (CVD) Guidelines helps healthcare professionals identify, prevent and manage a person's risk of developing CVD. ...

Templates integrated in Best Practice software

Templates integrated in Best Practice software

Popular Heart Health Check templates – CVD risk assessment and management plan – are directly accessible from within Bp Premier ...

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL CLINICAL TRIALS ...

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Permanent Pacemaker (PPM)

Permanent Pacemaker (PPM)

A small, battery-powered device that is fitted under the skin of your upper chest....

Your heart medicines

Your heart medicines

Your heart medicines

Information about commonly prescribed heart medicines. ...

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Find heart healthy lamb recipes....

Meatloaf

Meatloaf

40-50 minutes
Serves 6

What is an arrhythmia?

What is an arrhythmia?

What is an arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia is a fault in the heart’s electrical system, which affects your heart’s pumping rhythm....

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David’s shock heart failure diagnosis was just the start of a tough journey

David's heart failure diagnosis led to significant changes in his life....

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....