Project Synergy

Using technology to enhance counselling services at Open Arms Sydney

Open Arms wants to ensure that the needs of current and former serving personnel, and their families, are at the centre of decisions regarding how technology could be used to support face-to-face counselling.

The InnoWell Platform (formerly known as the Synergy Online System) is a new online technology developed by InnoWell, based on extensive research conducted by the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and InnoWell. It is an online system that delivers person-centred care by matching individual need to the most appropriate resource. 

The Platform does not replace existing Open Arms services; rather it works within our current system to streamline the intake process. Over time it will also help us to more efficiently allocate resources and monitor our clients outcomes.

The Platform achieves this by creating an open and transparent channel of communication between the client in care and their counsellor to empower collaborative decision-making. Through self-assessments, a holistic picture of health and progress, can be managed and monitored by the Open Arms counsellor and the client in our care.

This new technology may provide an additional option for how our clients can interact with their counsellors and how they engage with their mental health treatments. The first step is to see if the technology is useful in the Open Arms context, through a trial in our Sydney region.

Co-designing the Platform

To tailor the platform to the needs of the Open Arms community, Open Arms and the Project Synergy team have held a number of design workshops and user acceptance testing sessions with current and former serving personnel, their families, Open Arms clinicans and clinical support staff, ex-service organisation representatives and advocates. 

These sessions helped to explore ways of incorporating technology into Open Arms’ services in a way that works for our community. A big thank you to all who were involved in these workshops and user testing sessions! 

Open Arms wants to ensure that the needs of current and former serving personnel and their families are at the centre of decision making regarding how the InnoWell Platform could be used to support our service delivery, and you have contributed to this! 

By bringing together the voices of our clients, our clinical staff and all of the people who will be potentially using our services, we will be in the best possible position to find ways that technology can support the counselling work we do within the current and ex-service community.

This technology is not about replacing or reducing people’s access to direct counselling or face-to-face contact with our counsellors. Rather, it is about working with our current and former service personnel and their families to learn how to better reach and support them.

How to get involved

The InnoWell Platform is being trialled in the Open Arms Sydney region from February 2019 and provides eligible clients with an opportunity to complete their intake online, rather than over the phone. After completing the online intake and questionnaire in the Platform, clients are provided with a personalised dashboard of results and a variety of care options to access independently while waiting to be allocated to a counsellor.

There will also be opportunities for members from the Open Arms Sydney Centre community, including current and former serving personnel and their families (aged 16 years and over), as well as clinicians and clinical support staff, to participate in further user acceptance testing of the platform during this research trial. These sessions will run every three months during the trial, and will be advertised as dates become available.  

Further information can be found at the InnoWell Synergy website: https://synergy.innowell.org/

FAQ

What is the benefit for Open Arms in using the Platform?

Open Arms is always looking to improve the way that we deliver services to meet the diverse needs of our clients, and to promote the best possible outcomes from our counselling services. We are open to learning about the way that our clients use technology, and seeing if this technology can support good mental health and wellbeing. This trial is a good opportunity to see how technology might be incorporated meaningfully into our services.

This technology is not designed to replace our clients’ direct contact with counsellors, but to provide options for how our clients want to interact with their counsellors and how they want to engage with their mental health treatments.