Setting up the DiSS Clinic

A Guide to setting up the DiSS Clinic

If you are new to the DiSS program, this section provides you with some suggestions about what others in the program have done to get the ball rolling. Without having to worry about the specifics or the evidence, try the following tips to get thinking about what a DiSS clinic might mean to your clinic or school.

Step 1. A ‘champion team’ for young people

In the school setting, identify one person to act as the link between your school and the GP clinic. They will work alongside the clinicians and act as the liaison for the DiSS clinic. They will lead the set-up of the clinic in the school, explain what is happening and why and be responsible for introducing the clinicians to the school community. While they won’t be responsible for all of the changes, the school leadership and or lead teacher will support them, they will play a crucial role in the ‘champion team’.

The General Practitioner (GP) and Practice Nurse (PN) working in the DiSS clinic will also be part of the DiSS clinic ‘champion team’. They will lead the clinic set up with the support of the practice manager and PHN liaison officer and work to build relationships with the students and staff within the school. Consider who else in the home clinic and school community should be part of the champion team. Is there a school nurse or wellbeing team member who could play a role in championing the DiSS clinic?

Step 2. Get the team together 

Get the team together through an orientation meeting. Take out the checklist of things to cover from the DiSS program Operational Guidelines (link) and sit around a table to go through these items. Sometimes these processes can appear daunting, and on both sides of the program, we can feel a little unsure of what to expect and how it’s all going to work. Sitting down to communicate early and often is a commonly cited strategy for success by practitioners in the program to date. Most issues, problems and questions were resolved through regular communication between the SPL (or DiSS clinic liaison worker) GP, PN and leadership team.  Take some time to learn about one another’s roles, settings, hopes and expectations of the program and try to establish common goals.

Step 3. Familiarise yourselves with the Operational Guidelines

The DiSS Program Operational Guidelines is a useful resource outlining the program policies. Take some time to review this resource as it should cover many frequently asked questions that key stakeholders have in the early days. Questions about privacy of information, confidentiality, mature minors and the program model and facilities will be outlined. IT troubleshooting guides and role descriptions will be found in this guide. Kate  do you want to add anything?

Step 4. Get some feedback

Put out a suggestion/feedback box for students. Invite them to give anonymous feedback about the service – what they like, don’t like, how they would like things to change. Some clinics have placed this in the waiting room of the DiSS clinic, others in the wellbeing area. Perhaps you have other ideas for gathering feedback in the early stages?

Step 5. Feel comfortable around confidentiality

Check the confidentiality policy in the DiSS program Operational Guidelines (link) and take the time to review home clinic policies. Circulate these policies to all staff. Ensure that all teachers, reception staff and other staff members are aware of the confidentiality policy for the DiSS program and then make sure that your policy is displayed.

Step 6. A welcoming place to be

Refresh the DiSS clinic waiting area. Are there ways to make it less intimidating and more relaxed? Consider some games, mindfulness activities, resources or magazines appropriate for teenagers. Will you provide fruit or tea and coffee? Can you engage students to decorate the space?

Step 7. What exactly are we doing for young people?

Think through various aspects of your provision and identify different services that are relevant to young people. Are there any barriers to offering certain services? What extra equipment will you need? What services can your clinic offer on an in reach/ outreach basis? Consider creating a ‘Did you know….’ Poster for the waiting area listing all of these services. Consider holding a student and parent information night

Step 8. Experience working in the DiSS clinic

For the health sector, if your clinic doesn’t usually work with young people, talk with all your staff about working with young people. Find out what experience staff have with working with young people. Are there any positive/negative stories that can be learnt from? What do staff feel are barriers to engaging positively and productively with young people? Bring interested staff members out to the school clinic to get a sense of the school environment and the DiSS clinic space and possibilities.

For the education sector, if your school doesn’t usually provide health services, talk with teachers about their understanding of the health needs of adolescents. Find out what experiences they have had with students requiring health care. Are there any positive/negative stories that can be learnt from? What do staff feel are barriers to referring students to health services within the school setting? Take interested staff through the clinic and introduce them to clinicians.

Step 9. Find out who else is out there

Sit down as a ‘champion team’ to discuss services that each of you might offer in your unique settings. Schools have a host of programs, activities and interventions available as well as dedicated health and wellbeing team members on site throughout the school week. DET or school employed health professionals, such as school nurses, will be a valuable asset to the DiSS program. Make a point of getting acquainted with these other key stakeholders in schools. Do some research or consider other services in the area that support young people’s health and wellbeing. Speak to your PHN liaison for more information.

Step 10. How do young people access the DiSS clinic?

Make sure that all staff are clear about when young people can access services on their own. When is the DiSS clinic going to be open? How can students make a booking and do they require support to access the service? Make this information available to students and their families through compass, in newsletters or through assemblies. Sit down as a champion team to create a booking system.

Acknowledgement- This section was based on You’re Welcome Pilot 2017; Quality criteria for making health services young people friendly.British Youth Council, t.A.f.Y.P.s.H.a.Y.F.N.W. You’re Welcome Pilot 2017; Quality criteria for making health services young people friendly. 2017; Available from: