Show me:
Show me:
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 ...

Take on the 3,000 Squats in April challenge

Take on the 3,000 Squats in April challenge

Take on the 3,000 Squats in April challenge

Think you could pull off 100 squats a day for an entire month? Join the 3,000 Squats in April challenge and help raise funds for lifesaving heart disease research. ...

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.  ...

My Heart, My Life program and support resources

My Heart, My Life program and support resources

My Heart, My Life program and support resources

Learn how the Heart Foundation can support you and your loved ones. ...

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....

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

If you're 45 and over, or 30 and over if you're of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you should book your Heart Health Check today...

Together, we can change the future of heart disease

Together, we can change the future of heart disease

Together, we can change the future of heart disease

The power of your ongoing support can help save lives and keep more families together. Help us continue to fund promising heart research projects by donating today. ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Week 2022

Heart Week 2022

Heart Week 2022

With one Australian having a heart attack or stroke every 4 minutes, you have the power to change this statistic. ...

Health Professional Tools

Health Professional Tools

Health Professional Tools

Guidelines, publications and support for the health professional community....

Preventing Aortic Stenosis with Vitamin-K supplements

Preventing Aortic Stenosis with Vitamin-K supplements

Professor Carl Schultz, Institution: University of Western Australia...

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

What does a heart-friendly diet look like?...

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Find heart healthy kids recipes...

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

WEBINAR | Research Alumni Series 2020

WEBINAR | Research Alumni Series 2020

WEBINAR | Research Alumni Series 2020

The Heart Foundation is delivering a research webinar series for Heart Foundation research alumni....

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

We value the support of all of our corporate partners....

Thai chicken lettuce cups

Thai chicken lettuce cups

Thai chicken lettuce cups

10 minutes
Serves 4

Italian fish parcels

Italian fish parcels

Italian fish parcels

20 minutes
Serves 4

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

Resources for healthcare professionals on the management of patients with heart failure ...

For professionals: Guidelines for acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

For professionals: Guidelines for acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

Australian  guidelines  for  prevention, diagnosis and  management of  acute  rheumatic  fever and  rheumatic  heart  disease ...

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Explore the Heart Foundation’s guide on what to expect in the first month after your heart attack. ...

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup

35 minutes
Serves 4

Cholesterol and heart disease (animation)

Cholesterol and heart disease (animation)

Patient-friendly animation to explain high cholesterol ...

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....

For professionals: Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

For professionals: Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

Recommendations for assessing Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ...

Pregnancy and heart disease

Pregnancy and heart disease

Information and resources for health professionals....

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

Prevention of risk factors for heart disease in early life

Prevention of risk factors for heart disease in early life

Dr Rachel Climie, Institution: University of Tasmania...

Our strategy

Our strategy

Our strategy

Connecting Hearts Strategy 2021-2023...

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

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

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Search for healthy snack ideas...