Managing chronic illness together

Latrobe Valley residents suffering with chronic illnesses are encouraged to learn about ways to manage their condition through a Latrobe Community Health Service program. 

The next round of the six-week Better Health Self Management course begins on Monday, 22 April in Moe and is open to anyone with a long-term health condition, such as arthritis, heart or lung disease or diabetes, or cares for someone who does. 

Newborough resident Lorna McDevitt, who participated in the course in 2012 to help with her arthritis, said the experience assisted her to strengthen her understanding of pain management, but she got so much more out of the program.

“The thing I found really useful was in preparing for the end of life there are things to do to ensure things are done as you like. I found it interesting at how many different executors there are to organise,” Ms McDevitt said. 

She said when initially asked if she was interested in participating in the course she declined because she did not think she was having enough trouble with her arthritis to need it. 

“When they asked the second time they said, ‘we would like to get to people before they get to that stage’ and I hadn’t really thought about that,” Ms McDevitt said. She said while she didn’t let her condition stop her from doing what she wanted, she saw how others in her group of seven had felt isolated and restricted. 

“There are a lot of people who become isolated as they get older in one way or another. I thought this was good for encouraging them to try things again, but also it was a weekly chance for a chat, laugh and a cup of tea and even that little bit of communication was good for them,” Ms McDevitt said. 

She encouraged anyone who had a chronic condition to give the course a go, even if they did not feel it was adversely impacting their life yet. 

Each sessions runs for 2.5 hours, with a 15-minute break for tea and coffee. Latrobe Community Health Service asked for a gold coin donation to cover the cost of refreshments. 

Sessions are held from 10am Mondays at 42-44 Fowler Street, Moe.

Courses will be offered in other towns later in the year.  To register or learn more, phone the chronic disease management team on 1800 242 696.