Help to improve the well-being of Aboriginal communities

MOOTANG Tarimi means ‘living longer’ and that is the goal for nurse Jo Krupa and Aboriginal health education officer Veronica Lloyd who drive the health screening bus from Portland to Auburn in Western Sydney to help improve the well-being of Aboriginal communities.

At the NAIDOC Day celebrations the bus made a stop at Hartley to check on the health of the Aboriginal communities in and around Lithgow and surrounds.

The Mootang Tarimi Outreach Screening Program is part of the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s Aboriginal Chronic Disease Management Program which checks on physical health but also connects people to other community services aimed at improving wellbeing.

“We offer an holistic approach to achieving total wellbeing,” Veronica Lloyd said.

“By checking on individuals’ heart, blood pressure and renal (diabetes) health as well as linking them with other important services such as community nurses, GPs and community housing, if required.”

Tests take just six to a maximum of 30 minutes and are delivered in a custom designed long wheel bus with all the medical equipment to test for things like poor diet and kidney health, high cholesterol and glucose-sugar levels.

The service works closely with local non-government organisations (NGOs) like Mingaan Wiradjuri and the Aboriginal Cultural Resource Centre which book the service and help to promote attendance by members of local Aboriginal communities.

“Experience tells us that it can be common for individuals to look after their families’ and their communities’ health before their own so we aim to make it easier to access simple screening services,” nurse Jo Krupa said.

“It’s important for us to take the health screening service to the community rather than expecting them to come to us.”

Mootang Tarimi provides extensive follow-up care with all results forwarded on to the client’s GP with specialist referrals to other service providers.

Since Jo and Veronica came on board the service in June and July, they have seen more than 80 clients at 26 different bookings across Western Sydney, Blue Mountains and Lithgow.

Of these, three cases resulted in referrals to emergency for life-saving treatment and while Veronica says fortunately that is rare, it illustrates just how important the service is.

Veronica also provides clients with education appropriate to their individual screening results such as diet and exercise, quit smoking, diabetes management, weight loss and information about free health services such as dental care, specialists and diabetes clinics.

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