Holistic and innovative approaches to addressing the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Shoalhaven region of NSW have been developed by the Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.
However, Waminda’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) and cancer care programs are due to cease on the 30th of June “with no clear indication what the future will hold for these significant community-driven programs”, according to the article below.
This article is sponsored by the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW, and is published by Croakey Professional Services, following the recent #CommunityControl Twitter Festival held to mark World No Tobacco Day.
Waminda’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) Innovation program is a unique smoking cessation program that sits within our Dead or Deadly health promotion/healthy lifestyle program and has been conducted over the last 18 months.
It does this by: increasing awareness about the health impacts of smoking, particularly amongst young women and pregnant women; improving access to targeted support through clinical/non-clinical services; supporting participants to quit and maintain smoking cessation; and improving the knowledge, skills and understanding of the health impacts of smoking and pathways to quitting.
The program uses exercise to create change in other areas of the client’s lives. Based on research, we know that when people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other patterns in their lives, often unknowingly.
We take this opportunity to use motivational interviewing, opportunistic screenings and brief interventions to help break habits and create change. The client comes around to decide for themselves that they would like to have a quit attempt with our advice, education and ongoing support.
The program has delivered a number of outcomes for clients, including healthy lifestyle changes, strengthening of community, chronic disease prevention and management, building support networks, profiling Indigenous voices, and social/emotional wellbeing support, and smoking cessation.
Yarning circles have always been an integral part of Aboriginal culture. Sitting around discussing women’s business is something that has been happening for thousands of years. It feels natural and comfortable within our program to yarn about health education, chronic disease, weight management, trauma/healing, stress, women’s business etc.
With the support of the Lifestyle Medicine movement, we are trialling the use of Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs). These are like our traditional yarning circles with a GP and allied health professional. We are trialling three programs – weight wellness, pain management, and smoking cessation.
Lifestyle Medicine deals with the root cause of the problem: the modifiable aspects of the whole person (physical, emotional, spiritually, psychological), health behaviours, environment, and circumstances, underpinned by self-empowerment and self-efficacy to manage and improve our own health.
It doesn’t just treat the disease, it looks at the person and all factors and increases quality of life.
Initial results from the evaluation demonstrate the program has gone some way towards meeting key short-term and medium-term impacts for clients:
- Over the recent 12-month period , the Dead or Deadly program saw 248 participants, 20 percent of whom participated in TIS.
- Most participants were smokers (83 percent) and 41 per cent were categorised as being in the moderate to high level of nicotine dependence.
- Whilst formal mental health diagnosis was not collected, scores on the participants Kessler-10 suggest that up to 47 percent of participants were in the moderate to severe range for psychological distress.
- Diabetes finger prick tests indicated that 29 percent of the participants screened positive for diabetes.
- Based on waist circumference, nearly all participants (96 percent) were at risk for chronic disease (Heart Foundation 2018).
Our results include:
- Regular and strong engagement by participants across the four program sites.
- nearly a quarter of participants reported a reduction in their smoking with most participants reporting increased quit attempts and tenacity for quitting.
- 12 percent of smokers involved in the program confirmed that they had quit smoking altogether.
- Nearly all participants reported a reduction in anxiety and depression and about 22 percent of participants demonstrated a reduction in their K10 scores for their first assessment to a follow up point.
Waminda’s Comprehensive Care program model is a combination of healthy lifestyle and chronic disease prevention and management strategies delivered through a strength-based, individualised, culturally driven framework offering a whole-of-life approach to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the Shoalhaven region.
All program service delivery is individualised and tailored to family and community needs and involves our communities throughout the planning, design and evaluation of program activities.
Ultimately the model is aimed at removing the health disparity gaps between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australia and to encourage and promote the concept of “Making Healthy Normal”.
This comprehensive model includes services that cover the whole spectrum of health and cancer care, including early awareness and prevention initiatives to screening, referral, investigation and diagnosis support through to holistic treatment support, survivorship and palliative/end of life care support.
This concept is achieved through building capacity within local Koori communities and services to promote positive, healthy lifestyle awareness-based initiatives, and building effective partnerships across the Aboriginal community controlled, private and public health sectors to improve and coordinate care for Aboriginal people in the Shoalhaven.
The model also aims to increase the Aboriginal work force and provide training opportunities for existing staff and health workers and increase health literacy to improve awareness and education initiatives relevant to Aboriginal people in the Shoalhaven.
Ultimately Waminda’s Comprehensive Care – Keep your Health in Check, Make Healthy Normal Program is a whole of life approach to comprehensive, strength-based holistic continuous care regarding healthy lifestyle, cancer prevention and support initiatives with a key focus on tobacco control/cancer prevention.
Unfortunately, our current Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) and cancer care programs are due to cease on the 30th of June 2019, with no clear indication what the future will hold for these significant community driven programs.
The Waminda team will continue to lobby and investigate possible funding opportunities to continue this incredibly important work.
• This article is written by Kristine Falzon & Willow Firth (Waminda), sponsored by the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW, and published by Croakey Professional Services.