Having to travel away from the far west to access health services can be very daunting, but if this is happening because of a recent cancer diagnosis it can make the whole process so much more challenging.
A new booklet developed by Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation in partnership with the Far West Local Health District’s Cancer Services is now available to help Aboriginal clients successfully negotiate cancer services available in Adelaide.
Maari Ma’s Manager of Community Engagement, Kaylene Kemp, said the booklet has been developed thanks to a grant from the NSW Cancer Institute.
“The funding enabled our clinic team manager and the Far West Local Health District’s Cancer Care Coordinator to travel to Adelaide to see the cancer services first hand which very much helped in developing the booklet.
“The booklet provides our clients with straight forward information about cancer and cancer treatments, accommodation, transport, hospitals and their Aboriginal liaison staff, which is extremely useful when having to travel to unfamiliar places at what is most likely the scariest time in a person’s life.
“It also gives useful reminders about what you might need to take with you when you need to travel to access cancer services – things like referral letters and scans, and prescriptions.
“At the end of the day, whatever we can do to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people with cancer, we need to do and we hope this booklet will be part of that solution” Ms Kemp said.
The partnership between Maari Ma and FWLHD’s cancer services also provided for six Maari Ma staff – five Aboriginal health workers and one registered nurse – to undertake a two day placement with the local cancer services team.
They spent half a day each with the Cancer Care Coordinator, Psycho-Oncology Counsellor, Palliative Care team and Oncology Nurse.
Ms Kemp said Maari Ma’s staff found the placement extremely beneficial.
“It enabled them to better explain to newly diagnosed cancer patients what was ahead of them and what local services were available” she said.
FWLHD’s Director Cancer Services, Melissa Cumming, said the placement was beneficial for LHD staff as well.
“The placement followed on from some education sessions we conducted in a number of communities for Aboriginal health workers and other health staff to better understand the importance of screening for cancer and its various treatments.
“Cancer Services staff commented on the value of getting to know the Maari Ma staff better, in particular the Aboriginal health workers and their role.
“Unfortunately, Aboriginal people often present to health services with symptoms they have had for a long time. It was very valuable to be able to speak with Aboriginal staff who can stress the importance of regular screening as a preventative measure, and the importance of seeking early medical review when a person is feeling unwell” Ms Cumming said.