The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) is the Australian national peak organisation representing the state and territory peer-based drug user organisations and issues of national relevance for people with lived experience of drug use. AIVL’s purpose is to advance the health of people who use/have used illicit drugs.
In partnership with the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), AIVL was looking for a learning experience that would support health professionals to understand the pressures faced by illicit drug users as they accessed their services. Concerns among drug users were that they were being treated for their addiction first rather than for whatever illness they presented with.
The goal for this project was to develop an online learning resource that would support medical professionals in enhancing the customer experience for people who use drugs as they accessed health services.
Melanie Walker, former CEO - AIVL
As we began exploring what AIVL wanted to achieve from the program, it became clear that reaching a shared understanding and better communication between healthcare professionals and drug users was at the heart of this project. This meant that there were two audience groups that needed to be considered - the healthcare professionals and the patients.
This insight helped us shape the solution of a podcast, a series that both audience groups could access to see the situation from both sides.
We also explored the idea that everyone deserves to have the same experience when visiting their GP. From the small talk with the receptionist to the time spent with a doctor, to the collection of a script at the pharmacy - it should just be 'A Normal Day.'
The six-part series comprised of extensive interviews with GPs, pharmacists, researchers, emergency room physicians, GP receptionists and drug users. These subjects had unique insights and rarely-heard perspectives to share on the challenges and misunderstandings that can occur within a clinical relationship.
In short, this was a great opportunity for both audience groups to look into each other’s worlds and begin to work towards a shared understanding between health professionals and people who use drugs.
Melanie Walker, former CEO - AIVL
In collaboration with Kim Napier from Branded Podcasts, we worked with AIVL and their development partners to weave together a series of stories using interviews and additional research into the different themes relating to the patient experience. From walking in the door to the actual consultation with the GP, and then the visit to the pharmacist.
The visual design of the final product was extremely important to this project. The podcast series and resources were bundled together in a simple HTML page for ease of access across devices. The theme of 'A Normal Day' helped to inform the positive - even hopeful look and feel. The light feel and watercolour design helped to focus on the human element, irrespective of life choices.
AIVL had a small budget and no LMS of their own, so a further innovation was to leverage this from one of their partners. A ‘Normal Day’ was made available to the audience through the Australian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) LMS. It was important to deliver it in this manner rather than simply sharing the website link more widely, as privacy issues meant that while AIVL wanted to get the message out as broadly as possible – they were very careful to protect the identity of the participants, some of the drug users who participated were in highly paid jobs and functioning members of society – in some cases their own families didn’t know that they were using.
Listen to the teaser of A Normal Day below:
Jude Byrne, Project Officer & Spokesperson - AIVL
For the six months from 1 January to 30 June 2018, 'A Normal Day' was taken by 176 participants, including medical students, pharmacists and GPs. AIVL’s strategy of partnering with peak bodies and key training organisations was critical in attracting both the number and diversity of participants.
In the numbers:
A majority of participants (62%) listened to three or more of the podcast episodes with only 9% dropping out after listening to one episode.
An evaluation revealed a small but positive change in the attitudes of health practitioners towards people who use drugs. The most significant changes in attitudes were that, after listening to the podcast episodes, respondents felt:
An unexpected finding was that the stories within the podcast helped identify practitioner knowledge gaps in relation to people who use drugs. This has important implications not just for illicit drug treatment options but for related health issues, such as the prevention and treatment of Hepatitis C.
AIVL's 'A Normal Day' has been recognised with a Brandon Hall Excellence Award for Best Unique or Innovative Learning Program (Gold). It was also an AITD finalist for Best Use of Technology.