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Developing the service plan

The service plan flowchart
The service plan flowchart


A catchment is a defined geographic area. The catchment boundaries are to be defined with reference to administrative boundaries, service delivery patterns and transport networks. A brief description, of the physical geography, history of the area and local economy, may assist in providing an understanding of the service demands. A map should be prepared showing the area of the catchments, major towns, suburbs, transport links and any other relevant information.

Catchments will vary in size depending on whether the services provided are statewide, to the local communities or to specific target groups. The catchment should be agreed prior to proceeding with the data analysis stage.


Demographic information for the catchment area and population figures relevant to the project should be generated and may include:

  • population distribution by age, sex
  • socioeconomic status and ethnicity
  • visiting populations to major commercial and tourist centres
  • significant visiting populations to major commercial and tourist centres
  • historical growth trends in service supply and demand
  • population forecasts by age, sex, socio-economic status and ethnicity (Refer: Victoria in Future: Population projection 1996-2021 and Victorian population trends & prospects: 2001, both by the Department of Infrastructure), population status indicators that are available and appropriate
  • client / patient origin and client/patient flow to relevant services within the catchment and to other providers
  • other relevant information.

Current services

The services currently provided in the area, the proposed new services and any services being relocated should be described and discussed in relation to the development proposal.

The supply and demand for services should also be considered, including future predictions of service requirements.

An analysis of the demand for services should include:

  • frequency of need for services
  • length of service provision
  • occupancy rates by speciality where appropriate
  • average length of stay or consultation time
  • factors affecting the average length of stay and consultation time
  • alternative service providers.

Statistics on service demand and utilisation are to be analysed and compared with rates for similar examples, both statewide and nationally. Variations from the norm should be discussed. Accepted Department of Health benchmarks should be considered.

Future service demand

The forecast service demand is to be based on factors including:

  • current service demand level
  • potential to collocate and share services
  • forecast changes in demographics and service demands
  • catchment boundaries
  • seasonal demand
  • review service standards
  • anticipated changes in services practices
  • potential for development of new services
  • advancement in technologies such as developments of medical and hospital services eg. telemedicine
  • anticipated changes in service demand patterns such as attraction of demand currently using other services e.g. utilisation of community or outreach type services rather than institution-based services
  • availability of complementary services and resources to support identified new needs
  • changes in legislation and community expectations
  • consideration of methods of containing demand or channelling demand to primary care services.

Future requirements and distribution by speciality are to be estimated by:

  • service needs and client access
  • requirements for emergency facilities
  • optimal consultation, occupancy and usage rates
  • optimal functional unit size
  • acceptable target set by policy
  • availability of complementary services and resources to support identified new need
  • methods of service delivery including trends in Australia and overseas.

The service demand is to be estimated for a 10-year period on a yearly basis to establish the peak requirement. Such figures generally provide the basis for service planning. Other considerations to be considered may include:

  • Non-asset options. That is, consider options to meet demand with existing Agency and other private sector facilities by redesigning their usage.
  • Factors affecting the average length of stay.
  • Occupancy rates by speciality as appropriate.
  • Average length of stay or consultation time.

Preferred service model

The preferred service model would consider various options, taking into consideration current and future requirements. Future changes should be considered in terms of changes in legislation, technology and demand.

Throughput estimates

Throughput estimates or suitable benchmarks are required. These should consider current practice, rates in similar centres, quality, efficient and effective service delivery and changes in practice, technology and therapies.

Hours of operation

The hours of service operation required must be established as well as related issues, e.g., car parking requirements and transport.

Ancillary services

Ancillary services such as administration, hotel, training, engineering and supply services would be assessed on the basis of historical information, relevant / current government policies and future demand requirements.

Links to other providers

The service delivery needs to be considered in the context of similar or related services.

The service plan should assess linkages to services within a geographic boundary and to services of a complementary nature to ensure coordination.

Where possible, the service plan would examine the opportunities to rationalise these patterns.

Aggregation of services

Where a project involves a range of services the analysis is to consider opportunities for sharing facilities and staff between service areas to gain economies of scale and increase efficiency.


The optimum location for a facility is to be established with reference to access for clients and an economical unit size. The location of service should be based on population-based resource allocation.

Facility and personnel requirements

The options available to provide the required facilities and personnel are to be determined by using data such as that listed above in accordance with accepted best practice. The estimated peak demand for service for a ten-year period should be used to calculate demand. Any facility should be of adequate size to meet this service demand for the period of this service life.

Relationship between areas

A relationship diagram showing the key relationship between each service delivery area and each support area is to be prepared.

The important functional relationships need to be determined. This can be done in a variety of ways and refer to the example of functional relationship priorities illustrating a simple manner of presenting this information.

It is essential that consideration be given to the sharing of common and support facilities where practical, as well as incorporating flexibility of use into the designed spaces.

Example of functional relationship priorities

ActivityPrimary functions
Consulting rooms - H H L L M M M
Treatment rooms H - L L L M H L
Waiting area H L - L M M H L
Offices L L L - L L L M
Activity rooms L L M L - M H L
Reception H M M L M - L H
Public convenience M H H L H L - L
Records  M L L M L H L -

Proposed budget

A recurrent budget is to be determined for the preferred service model. The budget should relate to the current services, proposed new services profile/mix and the difference between the existing and proposed new. The proposed budget should be clearly separated into categories such as  operational/staffing, maintenance and consumables.

Performance indicators

The services plan should have clear measurable performance indicators. These indicators should clearly identify any constraints and/or resources required to achieve the agreed services mix. The performance indicators should be agreed with the Department of Health.


A draft report, which documents the service plan, is to be prepared.  Comparisons of the throughput rate and facilities provided at similar centres are to be made. The relevant agency managers are to review and sign off the service plan.

Preparation of the report - A draft service plan should be prepared and form the basis for discussion with a clear rationale for the recommended options outlined in the draft report.

Relationships diagram
Example of relationships diagram