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Understanding Complex Needs

This section looks at what complex needs are, and why services should become complex needs capable. The main points are that:

  • Every person accessing your service will have multiple needs, but it's the interaction of these multiple needs that leads to complexity.
  • There are many pathways to complexity and there's no one model or set of strategies to use when working with clients with complex needs.
  • Becoming complex needs capable means moving towards a more inclusive and holistic model of service delivery where you have the knowledge, skills and confidence to support clients with complex needs.
  • Most drug and alcohol services already work with clients with complex needs, but there is a high level of 'hidden' disability among people accessing services.
  • Each person with complex needs has a different pathway to their current circumstances as a result of their unique life experiences. A common feature of people's experience is marginalisation.
Understanding Complex Needs

The theory behind complex needs

Good practice is informed by evidence, and most evidence-based practice is informed by theory. You should consider how you work with a person and why you're working in that particular way. There are a number of theoretical approaches that are useful for framing practice strategies when working with clients with complex needs.

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Why be complex needs capable?

People with complex needs often fall through the gaps of health service provision by encountering cultural, economic or social barriers to accessing health services. They are often further disadvantaged when their support and care needs increase because they cannot access the services they need.

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