It’s no secret that there is a shortage of health services in rural NSW. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, people in remote and rural areas have a significantly reduced life expectancy and poorer outcomes on leading indicators of health as a result of the scarcity of health services.
What is the Rural Health Program?
ANSW has tried to address the shortage of health services in regional areas through our Arthritis Infoline, webinars and digital information. Through the generosity of donors, funds have been used to develop a rural health education program, to be delivered at rural centres in NSW. It is hoped that these events will also help people create networks for ongoing local support.
The education sessions are co-run with local community organisations tailored to suit each individual event, all fitting the overall theme of Living Well with Arthritis. The program covers:
- Arthritis management
- Pain management
- Exercising with arthritis
Upcoming – Orange & Online
The next Rural Health seminar will be held in-person in Orange and also online. Details are as follows:
Date: Friday, 27 May 2022
Venue: Orange Ex-Services Club, 231-243 Anson St, Orange NSW 2800
Online: Via Zoom link
Time: 10am – 12.30pm (refreshments provided)
Program: The focus of our presentation will be about the benefits and recommendations of exercise, pain management and the importance of addressing and looking after your mental wellbeing.
Guest Speaker: Claire Ward, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Sports Dietitian, will be addressing the diet and nutrition side of managing arthritis. She may focus on the benefits of a healthy and balance diet, inflammation, and the bidirectional relationship between arthritis and weight.
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Living Well with Arthritis successfully delivered online during Covid lockdown
Arthritis NSW had hoped to deliver its Rural Health Program to the local Nowra and Shoalhaven community on the 29 July, however sadly due to the restrictions imposed across Sydney and the greater metropolitan area, the program needed to be moved online. It is wonderful to report that this minor disruption did not diminish the south coast residents’ appetites for opportunities to learn more about their conditions and the ways they can effectively manage it (even in the context of our present challenges).
We are also inspired and encouraged by the resilience and adaptability shown by our engaged communities as they whole-heartedly embrace new and foreign technologies to ensure that they are able to stay socially connected and informed during this challenging time.
The day was split into two one-hour-long sessions and were attended by 30+ people who came from not just the southeast coast region but from areas of Sydney, Central West and the Hunter region (one silver lining about online education sessions, is that now more people are able to access our sessions from across the state). We ran our “Living Well with Arthritis” presentation, which gave its viewers a detailed understanding of the condition (e.g., risk factors, symptoms) and explored the many evidence-backed management strategies that can be employed to self-manage this condition in a way that contributes to ongoing positive quality of life.
This was coupled by a complementary presentation on “How to live well with a Chronic condition” from Erica Pitman, who drew not just from per own personal experiences living with rheumatoid arthritis, but also from her many years of professional experience as a group facilitator and grief counsellor. This session was very interactive and served to ensure that participants understood that their life adjustment was real, the emotions associated to this disease were valid and that there were again, sometimes simple, but effective ways that they could employ various management strategies (e.g., mindfulness, goal setting) to reduce the disruptions in their life caused by arthritis
Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive with many expressing not just their gratitude to have been able to learn something new about their condition or the way to manage it, but for the opportunity to connect and share their experiences with others in similar situations in a time when social connectivity has become so important.
Based on the reception and reported value of these events, Arthritis NSW currently continues to plan for the next Rural Health Program event in October and has adopted the philosophy of “plan to deliver within the community and adjust closer to the time if required. Though we still may find ourselves in uncertain times for 2021, “we anticipate and optimistically hope to be delivering face-to-face programs in the new year when it becomes appropriate to do so.
The need for support in rural NSW
For over 50 years, Arthritis NSW (ANSW) has helped people to manage their condition to get the most out of their lives. Our programs help people to better understand their conditions, relieve their pain, improve their range of movement and enjoy greater overall health.
Sadly, national health trends indicate that more Australians are developing this debilitating disease. Research tells us that one in four people across all stages of life are now affected by arthritis, impacting their livelihood and personal lives.