18 June 2024

The Safer Families Centre is encouraging GPs to enrol in self-paced modules on child and elder abuse for tips and resources on how to be more ready to respond to warning signs of abuse which your patients might be exhibiting.

The Identifying and Responding to Child Abuse and Neglect module teaches practical ways to strengthen your skills in identifying and responding to child abuse and neglect and outlines how to respond safely and appropriately to children and their families and determine when reporting is mandated.

It illustrates key challenges in responding to child abuse and neglect within the practice environment and guides you on selecting methods and resources for seeking support for yourself.

The Six Steps to Support you to Assess and Respond to Elder Abuse module looks at the nature, severity, and impact of abuse of older people and explains how to recognise the risk factors, types and signs.

It describes barriers and enablers for seeking help, and strategies to identify and safely respond to older patients experiencing abuse or violence.

15 May 2024

South Western Sydney residents will benefit from a boost in funding for additional Medicare Urgent Care Clinics and a network of new Medicare Mental Health Centres – two of the standout commitments from last night’s Federal Budget.

In handing down the government’s third budget, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said overall spending on health and aged care in 2024-25 would be $146.1 billion, including investments to strengthen Medicare ($2.8 billion), deliver cheaper medicines ($4.3 billion) and invest in a fit and healthy Australia ($1.3 billion).

The government committed $227 million in last night’s budget to increase the number of Medicare Urgent Care Clinics by 29 to 87, enabling more patients to receive fully-bulk billed urgent care from GPs or nurses in more locations.

A $361 million boost over four years to the range of free mental health services was also announced, including funding for 61 walk-in Medicare Mental Health Centres, building on the established Head to Health network. The centres will provide free, walk-in access to a psychologist or psychiatrist for adults with complex and high mental health needs.

This investment includes funding Primary Health Networks to work in partnership with general practice to provide mental health nurses and other allied health workers, for free wraparound care and support to patients with complex needs, in between GP and specialist appointments.

South Western Sydney PHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, said the bolstering of access to bulk-billed services both through Urgent Care Clinics and new mental health measures was welcome at a time when the cost of living was impacting access to healthcare.

Dr McDonald said the Australia Bureau of Statistics found the proportion of people who reported delaying or not going to a GP due to the cost grew from 7 per cent 2022-23 compared to 3.5 per cent in 2021-22.

“South Western Sydney was lucky enough to benefit from the opening of a Medicare Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) at Campbelltown Medical and Dental last December,” he said.

“The UCC has made it easier for local residents to access free, high quality care from highly trained GPs and nurses, while freeing up emergency departments to focus on life threatening emergencies,’’ he said.

“We’re looking forward to future announcements about the expansion of the network to additional sites across our region.”

Other announcements of note in last night’s budget include:

  • $91.1 million to boost the supply of healthcare in areas of shortage, including Primary Health Networks supporting health services at risk of closing.
  • $882.2 million to ensure older people get the medical support they need. This includes funding to upskill the residential aged care workforce and provide virtual care services, and deliver complex care for older people outside of the hospital.
  • From 1 August 2024, people in residential aged care will be more likely to receive quality and continuous care from a GP, with GPs and practices eligible to receive quarterly incentive payments, on top of Medicare rebates, to manage the health of their MyMedicare registered residents.
  • $1.4 billion to upgrade technology systems and digital infrastructure across the aged care sector in preparation for the new Aged Care Act.
  • $38.8 million for people aged 45 to 49 to join already eligible 50 to 74-year-olds in screening for bowel cancer by requesting a free test kit.
  • $598.9 million for the continuation of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Program to enable vaccinations to prevent severe COVID-19 disease.
  • $588.5 million over eight years for a national low intensity digital mental health service, which is free of charge and free of need for referral.
  • $35.9 million over four years to extend terminating mental health measures, to enhance the delivery of mental health and suicide prevention services and to provide greater funding certainty for service providers. $21 million of this will fund the PHN Targeted Regional Initiatives for Suicide Prevention (TRISP) for 2024-25.
  • Indexation on Medicare Benefits Schedule rebates is expected to deliver almost $900 million in additional benefits in 2024-25. This is on top of around $940 million in additional Medicare benefits already delivered in 2023-24.
  • Students in nursing, midwifery and social work will benefit from the establishment of a Commonwealth Prac Payment. This will support them while they undertake mandatory placements required for higher education and vocational education and training qualifications. Eligible students will be able to access $319.50 per week during their clinical and professional placement periods.
17 April 2024

The aged care system is not always simple or straightforward.

For older Australians, it can be daunting navigating and accessing aged care services through My Aged Care and other relevant community supports.

Assistance is available from care finders which provide face-to-face assistance to vulnerable older people needing different help to that provided by the My Aged Care call service or website.

SWSPHN has commissioned care finder services across South Western Sydney which cover a range of cultural needs.

What is care finder?

Care finder is a program resulting from the Royal Commission into Aged Care and provides specialist and intensive assistance to a subset of the older Australian population to help them understand and access aged care and connect with other relevant supports in the community.

The service is designed to reach older Australians who are eligible for My Aged Care services and meet one or more of the below criteria:

 

Why is this work important?

The aged care system is complex to navigate and access the services which are needed.

Some groups of older Australians may face barriers in accessing and engaging with the essential supports and services which contribute to better health.

Evidence indicates there is an under-utilisation of aged care services among older Australians.

Indigenous Australians represent only 2.6 per cent of people using aged care services, compared with a population of 3.4 per cent.

This is similar for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) populations, with only 18 to 20 per cent of older people born in non-English speaking countries using aged care services in South Western Sydney compared with a NSW average of approximately 34 per cent.

Challenges for CALD communities include English being their second language, not knowing where to access services, lack of confidence to ask for help and social isolation due to language barriers.

Older Australians who are hesitant to engage with institutions and government are also at risk of not accessing services and supports which they may need as they age. 

Care finders aim to see:

  • improved coordination of support when seeking access to aged care
  • improved understanding of aged care services and how to access them
  • improved client willingness/openness to engage with the aged care system
  • increased access to aged care services and connections with other relevant supports
  • increased rates of clients staying connected to the services they need post service commencement

What do care finder services do?

  • assist eligible older people with their My Aged Care applications, provide guidance on services to apply for and attend the My Aged Care assessment where appropriate
  • work through income/means testing and costs (with support from Services Australia as required)
  • help people connect with health services, mental health services, housing services, drug and alcohol services, community groups and transport as needed
  • complete high-level check-in on a periodic basis and follow up support once services have commenced
  • build a rapport with clients and providers

How do people access the service?

Referrals can be made through the Triple I Hub. GPs can use the referral form or install templates for MedicalDirector and Best Practice via the link on this webpage.

Your patients can also self-refer by contacting the services directly. The services’ contact details are listed on the webpage above.

 

09 April 2024

APNA’s Chronic Disease Management and Healthy Ageing program provides an online, evidence-based education framework to support nurses in primary healthcare to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence in key chronic disease management and healthy ageing topics. 

The six-month, intermediate-level program includes monthly workshops on key health priority areas.

Workshops are complemented by access to self-assessment tools and online learning modules, and participants are encouraged to share their learning, experiences and progress through a community of practice. 

Subsidised by the Australian Government, the course costs $220.

The first workshop will be held on Monday, 29 April.

To secure your spot, visit APNA’s website.   

18 December 2023

The aged care system is not always simple or straightforward.

For older Australians, navigating and accessing aged care services through My Aged Care and other relevant community supports can be daunting.

Assistance is available through care finders who provide face-to-face assistance to vulnerable older people needing different help to that provided by the My Aged Care call service or website.

There are care finder services available in each different region across in South Western Sydney and covering a range of cultural needs.

The care finder tasks can include:

  • Assist eligible older people with their My Aged Care applications, provide guidance on services to apply for and attend the My Aged Care assessment where appropriate
  • Work through income/means testing and costs (with support from Services Australia as required)
  • Help people connect with health services, mental health services, housing services, drug and alcohol services, community groups and transport as needed
  • Complete high-level check-in on a periodic basis and follow up support once services have commenced
  • Build a rapport with clients and providers

Referrals are centralised through the Triple I Hub.

GPs can use the referral form or install templates for MedicalDirector and Best Practice via the link on this webpage.

08 December 2023

Ho ho ho.

December has darted by and you’re already staring down the Christmas Day barrel. Time to get out the checklist and make sure you’ve got all bases covered.

  • Tree and decorations up✅ and up to scratch ✅
  • Gifts for everyone ✅ Wrapped✅ Labelled✅ Under the tree✅
  • Fridge stocked ✅ Alcohol✅
  • Ready for the big day ✅

But slow down.

While preparations for Christmas Day are in hand, there’s a lot of other considerations – focusing on safety and wellbeing – which need some thought and planning as well.

The festive and holiday season are about winding down, celebrations, get-togethers and parties, family and friends, getting away, day trips … and generally eating and drinking too much.

Some of those activities, done on the spur and in the spirit of the moment or without thinking or planning, can present unnecessary risks.

There’s also the natural elements to take into consideration – sun, heat and dry storms can combine lethally to produce bushfires.

At the same time, businesses take the opportunity for a breather – so availability and access to goods and services are limited. 

Here’s some examples of the festive season gone wrong!

  • Celebrating outdoors in the heat of the day. Sun and alcohol don’t mix. Think heatstroke or sunburn. And the chemist or your GP are closed.
  • Heading away for a few days, and you’ve posted your excitement on social media. You’ve also forgotten to get your mail held at the post office. Your friends are happy for you – and so are potential thieves.
  • You’ve gone hard on your Christmas lights display this year. But you’ve used double adaptors and plugged too many lights into one power socket. There’s a meltdown. And a fire.
  • The weather is enticing, and you’ve launched the boat for a few hours in the bay. Alcohol and jovial spirits are a recipe for disaster.

Beyond the Christmas tree and tinsel, some risk assessment and planning should be part of your overall festive preparations.

These will guarantee a safer and happier holiday season all round.

Medication mastermind

According to Healthdirect Australia, more than one in five Australians forget to pack their medication when going on holiday.

Do you have enough prescriptions and medications to get you through the public holidays? If you’re going away, do you have an up-to-date list of your medications?

Visit your GP and pharmacy before the Christmas shutdown and plan ahead.

Theft and security suggestions

Annual crime statistics show an increase in burglaries in the lead-up to Christmas, with a spike in January.

Insurance claims for household theft also skyrocket during the same period.

Common claims over the festive season include jewellery, electrical equipment, computers and accessories, bikes, and tools.

There’s a few simple and commonsense safeguards you can take to protect your home and property.

If you’re home over Christmas:

  • Don’t put Christmas trees and presents near windows with a street view as this can encourage opportunistic thieves.
  • If you are expecting parcel deliveries and no one is home, redirect the parcel to the PO or get a PO locker.
  • Lock toys and tools away each night.
  • Front and back doors are the first line of defence against potential thieves. Invest in the best quality door locks, screens and maybe even a security system.

If you’re going away:

  • Don’t post your holiday plans on social media.
  • Ensure the house is securely locked, including windows usually left open.
  • Smart plugs can be set on timers or controlled automatically, and some systems even have a built-in mode which will randomly turn lights or a radio/television on or off during evening or morning hours.
  • Redirect your mail or have it collected by a friend. Ask the friend to regularly clear brochures and advertising material from the letterbox.
  • Tell neighbours or friends, who can check on the house, you are away and who will be at the house legitimately, such as pet minders, family or the mowing man.
  • Secure your garage or, if unable, move items such as bikes inside the house.
  • Do not leave cash in the house and make sure jewellery is locked away in a safe place.
  • Mow the lawn, tidy the yard and stop all deliveries.
  • If you have a landline, turn off the answering machine and turn the phone volume down.

NSW Police recommend some simple ongoing measures to protect your property and give you peace of mind all year through.

Christmas commonsense

Everyone wants their Christmas decorations to look the best and reflect the festive mood.

There’s the twinkling lights display outside, more lights on the tree and perhaps some animated electric displays indoors.

You also might have some Christmas candles to set the atmosphere.

Remember, there are some important do’s and don’ts:

  • Check all smoke detectors in your house in the lead-up to Christmas.
  • Safely maintain your indoor and outdoor electrical decorations. Check them for frayed or bent cords and blown or flickering globes. Keep a record of when you bought the items and replace them as they age.
  • Don’t overload circuits, extension cords, or electrical sockets. Spread decorations across multiple circuits to prevent a meltdown.
  • Consider where to place your Christmas tree. If it’s a real tree, it will dry out and could become a fire hazard.
  • Never leave candles unattended or near flammable objects such as curtains.
  • Turn off lights and other electronics before going to bed.

Kitchen craziness

Festive and holiday season celebrations often start in the kitchen and adjourn to the dining room table. Family and friendship bonds are cemented by good food and accompanied by a glass of wine or beer.

But the fun and laughter can take the focus away from kitchen and cooking safety. A Christmas safety article reports on Christmas Day one in 10 people experience cooking burns and blisters with hot liquids, and one in five people tend to get serious cuts while cutting the meat and vegetables. 

There are a few reminders to take the crazy out of the kitchen on Christmas Day:

  • Limit the number of people in the kitchen – keep children and pets out – and especially around the hotplate, oven and food.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.
  • If you are frying, grilling or boiling food, don’t leave pans and pots unattended. If you’re simmering, baking or roasting food, check regularly.
  • Use a timer to remind yourself the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep flammable items, such as pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, food packaging and towels, away from your stove, oven or any other kitchen appliance that generates heat.
  • Use different chopping boards for raw meat, fruit and vegetables.

There’s also some important steps to follow for food preparation and cooking, serving and storage – to ensure you and your family and friends stay safe.

  • Always cook poultry, minced meat and sausages all the way through until the juices run clear and there is no pink.
  • Whole pieces of red meat can be cooked to taste, and if it is properly heated and well browned on the outside to kill bacteria it can be rare inside.
  • Food should not be kept at between 5°C and 60°C — the ‘temperature danger zone’ — for more than two hours. If perishable food has been in the temperature danger zone for two to four hours, you should use it immediately. If perishable food has been in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours, toss it in the bin.
  • Keep food steaming hot until you serve it.
  • Cool leftovers quickly. This prevents bacteria which have survived the cooking process from multiplying while your hot food cools down. The best way to do this is to cover any leftovers and put them in the fridge or freezer. Leftovers can generally be kept for two to four days in the fridge.
  • If you’re sending guests home with leftovers, give them ice packs or blocks from the freezer to keep their food chilled on the way home.
  • When you reheat leftover foods, make sure all parts are steaming hot, enough to kill off any bacteria. Reheat food rapidly to at least 70ºC.

Drink smart, not hard

We’ve all done it! It’s easy to get carried away with friends, parties and festivities, the moment … and the drinks just keep flowing. We can be regretful the next day, but in the meantime some damage may have been done. Relationships. Poor decisions. Accidents.

Think first, before you’re not in a position to make a good decision:

  • If you’re out and about and drinking, always have a plan on how you’re getting home. Never drive. Consider public transport options.
  • If you’re in a group, always look out for one another.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Don’t combine alcohol with too much sun. Alcohol will dehydrate you quicker.
  • If you’re had some drinks, avoid activities that put you in the driver’s seat like driving, bike riding, skating, boating or surfing.
  • Step away from lively differences of opinion that may develop into arguments. Agree to disagree.
  • If you do find yourself in a triggering situation, call it a night.
  • If you’re the host of a get-together, ensure there’s plenty of snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Make games and activities available that offer a break from drinking.

Sun smart

The festive season coincides with summer holidays and, of course, that’s the peak heat point of the year.

Extreme heat events in Australia claim more deaths than all other natural hazard events combined. Those at greater risk include older people, people with existing medical conditions, babies and young children, outdoor workers, socially isolated people, people who are homeless and pregnant women.

Visit NSW Health for some beat the heat advice and recommendations. Healthdirect also has some great information and suggestions to stay cool and avoid hot weather risks.

Cancer Council NSW still promotes its slip, slop and slap campaign, though in later years it has added another two pieces of sound advice: seek shade and slide on the sunglasses.

DIY dangers

Holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some DIY projects and house maintenance. Think ladders, electrical equipment or chemicals.

A few simple measures can mean the difference between getting the job done safely and a trip to emergency:

  • Safety gear: Wear the right clothing for the job such as long sleeves and pants, enclosed shoes, protective glasses, earmuffs or plugs; breathing protection, gloves, disposable overalls, cut-resistant clothing and kneepads.
  • Hidden dangers: Be aware of the age of your property and be on the alert for lead-based paints and asbestos-based products.
  • Tools: Use the right tool for the job and make sure it’s in good working order. Always let someone know what you are doing so they can be aware of risks and hazards and find you if needed. It’s good practice to have someone working with you when using ladders, even at low heights.
  • Tradesman: Don’t attempt jobs that require a licensed tradesman such as electrician or plumber. It’s illegal to do them yourself.
  • Assess the job: Don’t do a DIY job beyond your capabilities and tool kit. Safety, structural integrity and longevity are paramount, especially for future homeowners.

Bushfire threat

Most of us remember the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires which roared into life across Australia, caused by dry conditions, a lack of soil moisture and, finally, extreme temperatures. They peaked in December 2019 and were only extinguished completely in May 2020, after ravaging 24.3 million hectares, destroying 3,000 buildings (including 2,782 homes), and claiming 34 lives.

  • The NSW Government has guidelines on how to prepare a bushfire survival plan.
  • The NSW RFS has an online assessment tool designed to help you make an informed decision when making your bush fire survival plan, such as whether you will leave early, or stay with your property and defend it.
  • While no one wants any type of emergency over Christmas, it’s always wise to be prepared in a practical sense. An emergency preparedness kit should be stocked and stored in an accessible spot. It should include food, water, medications, phone numbers, first aid kit, torch with extra batteries, and blankets.

Take the stress out of Christmas

The Christmas and holiday season are a conundrum. On one hand, they’re about family, friends, and celebrations. That can bring lots of fun and laughter, though it can be a cause of stress in itself.

But it’s also the loneliest time of the year for some. Lifeline reports calls and texts peak up to 6 per cent above average in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and on the day immediately after the New Year’s Day public holiday.

Healthdirect offers a practical eight ways to stress-proof your festive season. Healthdirect also offers 24-hour health advice on 1800 022 222.

If you need and want to talk to someone, there’s always a caring and friendly person at Lifeline 11 13 14, while the Mental Health Line can offer support on 1800 011 511.

21 November 2023

GPs across the South Western Sydney can refer to the care finder program using this one-page referral form available as a PDF or templates for Medical Director and Best Practice.  

The aged care system and My Aged Care can be difficult to understand and navigate especially if a person has: 

  • communication and language barriers
  • difficulty processing information due to cognitive decline
  • reluctance to engage with a need for support
  • reluctance to engage with government services

Some older Australians need extra support to navigate the aged care system and use My Aged Care but do not have family, friends, a carer or a representative they are comfortable receiving help from and who is willing and able to help them access aged care services and supports.  

Care finder provides eligible people with tailored, intensive face-to-face support.  

SWSPHN has commissioned six organisations to employ care finders and the Triple III Hub to provide a centralised intake service.

Triple III allocates referrals to the most appropriate care finder organisation which will then contact your patient.  

Find out more

16 November 2023

Jump to:

There’s no denying it’s getting hotter.

The current climate drivers, long-range forecast and recent conditions indicate an increased risk of heatwaves and bushfires this year.

For the 2023–24 season, the Bureau of Meteorology is expecting the following conditions:

  • Heatwave – the forecast shows a high chance of unusually warm temperatures for most of Australia until at least February 2024.
  • November to January rainfall is likely to be below average across much of western, southern and north-eastern Australia.
  • November to January maximum and minimum temperatures are very likely to be above average for most of Australia.
  • November to January maximum and minimum temperatures are at least 2.5 times more likely than normal to be unusually high for most of Australia.

Senior meteorologist Sarah Scully said Australians should prepare for dry and warm conditions with an increased risk of heatwaves and bushfire weather this spring and summer.

“Daytime and night-time temperatures have an increased chance of being unusually warm until February. Warm nights after hot days means little relief from heat and can lead to heat stress,” Ms Scully said.

SWSPHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, attended the GWS Future Health Forum 2023 in October in Parramatta, presented by the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue.

Dr McDonald said one of the topics was of particular interest and concern to communities in South Western Sydney: Heat as a Health Threat in Greater Western Sydney. 

“Discussion was around heat as one of Greater Western Sydney’s lesser-known killers. Panellists agreed it’s an issue that has compounding effects on the community and is becoming more serious over time,” Dr McDonald said.

On the back of the health forum was the release of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Let’s talk about the weather: injuries related to extreme weather.

According to the report, extreme heat in Australia accounted for 7,104 injury hospitalisations and 293 deaths in the 10-year period analysed (2012-2022). Apart from Tasmania, exposure to excessive natural heat was the most common cause leading to injury hospitalisation in all states and territories. 

The extreme weather report supports findings in the Climate, Health and Wellbeing in Western Parkland City (2023), a guidance document for the Western Sydney Health Alliance as part of the Increasing Resilience to Climate Change Project.

It is estimated there are three times as many heat-related deaths in Western Sydney during heatwaves than in Sydney’s east.

The Western Parkland City, which includes Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Liverpool and Wollondilly shire, is being impacted by rising temperatures, with the number of days per year over 35C degrees in Western Sydney increasing from an average of 9.5 days in the 1970s to 15.4 days per year in the last decade. This is projected to increase to 12 days over 40C per year by 2090.

Dr McDonald said understanding the impact of excessive heat on the body and following some simple measures could decrease the risks of heatstroke and heat stress.

 

Understanding hot weather risks

What is a heatwave?

Heatwaves are times of extreme heat, when the minimum and maximum temperatures are hotter than usual for three or more consecutive days.

Overheating

When the weather is very hot, your body must work harder to produce more sweat to keep cool.

In some conditions, sweating is not enough and your body temperature can rise rapidly. This is more likely to happen when it is humid or when you are dehydrated and can’t produce enough sweat.

It is important your body temperature stays between 36.1 to 37.8˚C. If your body rises above this, you may develop signs of heat-related illness.

Heat-related illness occurs when the body absorbs too much heat. This may happen slowly over a day or two of extremely hot weather.

Act quickly to avoid serious—or even fatal—effects of fully developed heatstroke.

Signs of heatstroke

  • Rapid pulse or weak pulse
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Dry, swollen tongue
  • Trouble speaking
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems concentrating or coordinating movements
  • Aggressive or strange behaviour
  • Dizziness, confusion, seizures or loss of consciousness
  • Sudden rise in body temperature
  • Hot, dry and possibly red skin, possibly with no sweat
  • Headache, nausea or vomiting
  • Intense thirst

Signs of heat stress

  • Rising body temperature
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Absence of tears when crying (children)

Who is at risk?

While most people find extremely hot weather and heatwaves uncomfortable, some people have a higher risk than others of becoming ill. These include:

  • Adults aged over 75 years, babies and young children
  • People with long-term health conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes
  • People living with overweight or obesity
  • People taking certain medicines
  • People who are socially isolated
  • People who work outdoors or in hot and poorly ventilated areas
  • People who are not accustomed to the heat, for example, overseas visitors

 

Staying safe in the heat

Be prepared

  • Find ways to make your home or building cooler like light-coloured window coverings, awnings and shade cloth
  • Have air conditioners serviced before the start of summer
  • Ensure you have enough food, medicine and other supplies to avoid going out or if electricity supply is interrupted
  • If you have a medical condition, ask your GP for advice on how to manage the heat
  • Make a list of family, friends and neighbours you might want to check in on and ensure you have their current contact details
  • Drink 2 to 3 litres of water a day at regular intervals, even if you do not feel thirsty. If you are on a limited fluid intake, check with your GP
  • Limit intake of alcohol, soft drinks, sports drinks, tea or coffee
  • Eat normally but try to eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit. Avoid heavy protein foods which raise body heat and increase fluid loss

Keep out of the heat

  • If you can, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am to 3pm). Avoid strenuous activities and gardening
  • Do not leave children, adults or animals in parked cars
  • If you do go out, wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, porous clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen
  • Regularly rest in the shade and drink plenty of water

Stay as cool as possible

  • Stay inside, in the coolest rooms in your home
  • Block out the sun during the day and keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside
  • Use fans and air conditioners at home to keep cool, or spend time elsewhere in air-conditioning like a library, community centre, cinema or shopping centre
  • Take frequent cool showers or baths and splash yourself several times a day with cold water
  • Open windows after the sun/heat has gone down to allow for air circulation
  • Make sure to stay cool while you sleep. Just because the heat has gone down doesn’t mean it isn’t still hot

Keep food safe in hot weather

  • Put food back in the fridge after using it
  • Don’t eat food left out of the fridge for 2+ hours
  • Put leftovers in the fridge after the food has cooled
  • Eat leftovers within two to three days
  • Read more about food safety

Being sun smart

If you have to go outside into the heat, follow a few recommendations from the Cancer Council NSW:

  • Learn to understand the UV index (when the UV index is 3 or above we need to protect the skin from sun damage)
  • Wear protective clothing (clothing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your skin)
  • Apply sunscreen (choose a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen which is at least SPF 30)
  • Wear a hat (wear a broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire-style hat for the best protection)
  • Seek shade
  • Wear sunglasses (protect your eyes properly with close-fitting wrap-around sunglasses)

 

Checklist for older people

Before a heatwave

  • Assess which care recipients are at risk – who has limited capacity to keep cool; or which areas of the facility are prone to being hot
  • Ensure entry/exit points can be monitored
  • Ensure cooling systems in the home are adequate and working effectively
  • Ensure alternative forms of fluid, such as jelly, ice-cream or fruit juice blocks are available

During a heatwave

  • Ensure the temperature in care recipients’ rooms are comfortable, keeping curtains and blinds closed to reduce excess heat
  • Monitor entry/exit points to avoid the unsupervised departure of care recipients during extreme heat events
  • Be aware care recipients may be at particular risk following high overnight temperatures
  • Ensure small amounts of fluids are readily available, rather than large amounts of fluids less frequently
  • Avoid serving caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
  • Provide care recipients with frequent small meals
  • Help care recipients to keep skin covered when exposed to direct sunlight and to wear loose fitting clothing
  • Avoid taking care recipients outside between 11am and 3pm
  • Offer tepid showers or sponging
  • Look for signs of heat stress, such as nausea or changes in appearance including red, pale or severely dry skin
  • Ask for a clinical assessment if care recipient shows any signs of deterioration

 

Caring for pets

Our pets are part of the family, and they feel the heat as much as us. The most common summer risks for pets are: overheating; sunburn; dehydration; stroke. Follow some simple steps to ensure they are safe and comfortable during hot weather.

  • Provide plenty of water and shade
  • Know the signs of overheating:
  • Heavy panting
  • Dry or bright red gums
  • Thick drool
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Wobbly legs
  • Never leave your pet in the car (it can take less than 10 minutes to develop heat stroke in dogs and cats inside a hot vehicle)
  • Apply sunscreen (pets get sunburns too, especially those with short or light hair coats; apply pet sunscreen only)
  • Don’t shave your pet (a pet’s coat is naturally designed to keep it cool during the summer and warm in the winter; trim but never shave)
  • Mind your walking hours (don’t walk your pet in the heat of the day; consider early morning and late evening)
  • Keep your dog’s paws cool (try to keep your pet’s paws off concrete, bitumen and other hot surfaces)
  • Keep parasites off (In summer, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites are everywhere)

 

Resources to help you prepare for a heatwave

Find more information on preparing for a heatwave and learn how heatwaves can impact chronic conditions and medications.

Download Your health matters in a disaster flyer, five simple steps to help prepare you if a disaster occurs.

16 November 2023

SWSPHN staff attended the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council Caring for Elders Expo 2023 at the Liverpool Catholic Club this week. The expo was a special gathering focused on celebrating and supporting our Elders, who hold immense wisdom and cultural significance in our community.

SWSPHN Integration and Priority Populations Coordinator Ivan Broome and Workforce Engagement Officer Marina Hagarty attended the event to highlight the aged care services available in our region. They also represented SWSPHN as proud sponsors of this meaningful event.

The Elders Expo centred around the theme ‘Strong Mind – Strong Body – Strong Spirit’ and offered various resources for health wellness and cultural healing opportunities.

The event featured:

  • Health, wellness and aged care service providers
  • Information on ageing well and aged care support
  • Pampering, massage and barber stations
  • Elder Message Stick Exhibition
  • Craft Corner
  • Live music performances
  • Informative health talks

Find out more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

 

 
01 November 2023

The Australian Government highlighted the themes of “respect, care and dignity for senior Australians” in its response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (2021).

The needs assessment for the project reported in April 2022, the SWSPHN Healthy Ageing Co-design Report, indicated the greatest need was among older people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. 

With this in mind, SWSPHN has commissioned Grand Pacific Health (GPH) to develop and run healthy ageing education programs for older people, and specifically refugee and migrant populations, in South Western Sydney.

Healthy Ageing at Home (HAAH) is a community-based program designed to assist older individuals in Fairfield and parts of Liverpool to live independently and age well.

Arabic-speaking and Vietnamese communities are being targeted in the program’s inaugural rollout. Once established, other language groups will be identified. 

The program aims to reduce the physical and social isolation experienced by older individuals living in South Western Sydney.

HAAH incorporates social activities and connections to health services, health literacy and social support networks.

It also facilitates access to health professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and nutritionists, who can provide advice and support to older people living in the community.

While care and support of the ageing is the priority of the program, another objective is to reduce pressure on hospital systems and residential aged care homes (RACHs) in the long term.

The program will educate in three ways:

  • Directly to older people in face-to-face sessions
  • Directly to community organisations so they can support older people in the community to stay at home
  • Online to family and carers so they can support older people in the community to stay at home

Informational workshops started at the end of September and will continue until June 2025.

They will be delivered face-to-face and in language for older people and online for family and carers.

GPH delivered eight co-design workshops, for Arabic-speaking and Vietnamese communities in the Fairfield and Liverpool areas from May to July this year.

The workshops were delivered with assistance from bilingual educators, and engaged 96 participants, including aged individuals, carers and families, who identified their unique needs and challenges.

The feedback informed the basis of HAAH program activities.

Themes highlighted at the GPH co-design workshops included:

  • My Aged Care – navigation and access to Commonwealth Home Support Services
  • Mental and emotional health, including trauma-informed care
  • Chronic disease – early intervention activities
  • Finding community resources in your neighbourhood
  • Informing health providers of culturally appropriate practices
  • Health literacy – general

GPH’s program staff reported feedback from the co-design workshops was “profound and humbling” and that services had been lacking previously. The information from these sessions, especially around trauma and health literacy, will be used to support information sessions into the future.

An innovative train the trainer version for the HAAH program’s key community groups is also being rolled out at the same time, to empower those groups to help their community and work collaboratively with English-speaking health service providers.

According to the World Health Organization, healthy ageing is the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability which enables wellbeing in older age.

Functional ability is broken down into five parts and is defined as the ability to:

  • Meet basic needs
  • Learn, grow and make decisions
  • Be mobile
  • Build and maintain relationships
  • Contribute to society

Visit Grand Pacific Health’s website to find out more.