heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

The Lighthouse Hospital Project: The story so far

The project aims to reduce inequalities in healthcare, with a focus on cardiac care and patient outcomes.

Key takeaways

  • The Lighthouse Hospital Project began in 2012 and was piloted in eight hospitals, before expanding in 2017 
  • The Lighthouse Toolkit helps hospitals provide culturally appropriate and clinically competent care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families during and beyond their hospital experience 
  • This program contributes to reducing inequalities in cardiac care and patient outcomes for their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. 
6 min read

Key initiatives to improve heart health  

Beginning in 2012, the Lighthouse Hospital Project identified a toolkit that enables hospitals to provide exemplary care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. The project aims to reduce inequalities in healthcare, with a focus on cardiac care and patient outcomes. The key initiatives included:
  • Expand and optimise the Aboriginal health workforce in participating hospitals 
  • Improve identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients 
  • Engage in effective partnerships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities 
  • Fostering of champions on clinical staff 
  • The commitment to delivering patient-centred care, and 
  • Using newer technologies to improve communication.  

The Lighthouse Toolkit  

The Lighthouse Toolkit was piloted with eight hospitals from 2014 to 2016. Each hospital in the program received The Lighthouse Toolkit, which included a plan, action areas and quality improvements. The toolkit outlines ways hospitals can provide culturally appropriate and clinically competent care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families, both during and beyond their time in hospital.    

Expansion of the project (2017 to 2019) 

In 2017, the Australian Government Department of Health provided $7.98 million to support the expansion of the project to 18 hospitals (i.e. phase three).  

Phase three enabled the project to reach nearly half of all cardiac admissions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples [1].  

The toolkit guided hospitals to implement significant quality improvement activities. Hospitals worked to develop a culturally safe and clinically appropriate hospital experience for their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. 

Each hospital worked with local partner organisations, including Aboriginal Medical Services, community health service providers and the community to improve care coordination. 

Testimonials from Lighthouse hospitals  

"Community engagement and consultation for us to work together to ensure we make a real and permanent difference occurs when only relationships are strengthened, and our stories are written and shared. Phase 3 of the Lighthouse Project has been a strong step forward to writing new stories and making a real change to the way we design care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Work must continue to ensure that the many successful initiatives from Phase 3 are streamlined, shared and embedded into healthcare frameworks nationally to actively continue to close the health gap." 
CEO, regional health service 

“From an executive member point of view, being part of this project gives me the opportunity to promote improvements from other hospitals across our hospital. A lot of the techniques used in the Lighthouse Project for ACS will in fact be transferable to other conditions as we go forward, So, partnering in this is a fantastic opportunity to address chronic disease issues in our Aboriginal people.” 
Executive sponsor, metropolitan hospital 

“It has been great to be involved. It has been really good for the organisation. It has certainly given us momentum around things that would have taken a lot longer or not happened for who knows how long. I really do think that it has made differences, tangible differences, and I do think there are things that will measurably improve.” 
Project team member, metro hospital 

“You know, this toolkit has the opportunity to change disease management for Aboriginal people. It just needs to be scaled up. It’s incredible, and it works.” 
Project team member, regional hospital 

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. ...

Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

The Australian Guideline for Prevention, Diagnosis and Management of Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease (2nd Edition)​....

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Training Centre

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Training Centre

Training to support 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....

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

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....

CVD risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults

CVD risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults

This consensus statement contains recommendations for assessing CVD risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged under 35....

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 heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Active Living NSW

Active Living NSW

Active Living NSW

Active Living NSW supports physical activity and healthy built environments in NSW ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Feel healthier and happier in six weeks with a free Personal Walking Plan...

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

A series of virtual events for young adults on managing emotional wellbeing. ...

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....

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Week

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Join the Heart Foundation in South Australia for the journey of a lifetime, trekking the ancient Flinders Ranges to help save Australian hearts....

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Discover our Annual reports from 2013 onwards. ...

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Alliance with chronic disease prevention stakeholders...

Moroccan chickpea tagine

Moroccan chickpea tagine

25-40 minutes
Serves 4

Exercise boosts artery health in middle-aged and older men, not testosterone therapy

Exercise boosts artery health in middle-aged and older men, not testosterone therapy

Exercise boosts artery health in middle-aged and older men, not testosterone therapy

Media Release - 22 February 2021...

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

Heart health information in your language

Heart health information in your language

A selection of heart health information brochures in a range languages...

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Get the right balance of healthy fats in your diet ...

Physical activity resources

Physical activity resources

Physical activity resources

Resources for health professionals interested in physical activity....

Your heart is your most important tool

Your heart is your most important tool

Your heart is your most important tool

Men’s Health Week is the perfect time to think about your heart....

Heart Bypass Surgery

Heart Bypass Surgery

Coronary bypass surgery is a common procedure that can dramatically improve the health of your heart. ...

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Every day, 22 women lose their lives to this condition....

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

My health for life program

My health for life program

My health for life program

The Heart Foundation is a proud supporter of the Queensland My health for life program...

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

Kim shares the emotional and physical upheaval experienced on her journey to diagnosis and recovery....

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Clinical information for diagnosis and management of hypertension....

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Media Release - 16 November 2020...

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood pressure monitoring at home using a 24-hour blood pressure monitor test....

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Pregnancy is often referred to as the “ultimate stress test” for the body....