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Health program for indigenous seniors launched

Providing culturally appropriate health support and education to reduce the level and impact of preventable chronic health conditions.

The program, a first for Queensland provider Blue Care, aims to improve and promote better health for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander people living with chronic and complex care needs.

Blue Care Central Queensland allied health service manager Sue Jones said the program has been adapted from Aunty Jean’s Good Health Program in the Illawarra region of NSW, with permission from the community’s Elders.

“Aunty Jean’s Good Health Program has been built around the community’s capacity to work together for better health outcomes, with the Elders leading the way,” Jones said.

“Similarly, the strong supportive relationship between local Elders and Aboriginal Health Workers has given our program its identity and direction.”

The Central Queensland version of the program has been named Mangabay Dhingiga Ganggundi Bimbi, which means ‘meeting place for doing good’. It is being funded through the Department of Communities’ Home and Community Care program.

“The program is about providing Indigenous people with culturally appropriate health support and education to reduce the level and impact of preventable chronic health conditions,” Jones said.

“People who live with – or are at risk of developing – chronic conditions including high blood pressure, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes or stroke will benefit from the program.”

Jones said it was hoped the program would help to close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

“This is about empowering Indigenous people in the community to take control and manage their own health with our support,” she said.

“Our role will be to motivate, provide support, help with goal-setting and exercise and we can call on our networks, as well as provide specialist allied health advice.”

The program will involve weekly gatherings at the Blue Care centre where clients can participate in gym or hydrotherapy pool exercise sessions, social support and educational sessions, along with health consultations and weekly results monitoring.

“This program is the culmination of 18 months hard work and there have been a lot of people involved, including health agencies, Indigenous groups and a special mention must go to our Indigenous Health Worker Elizabeth Blucher who has been integral to the project,” Jones said.

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